For those uninitiated in the world of esports, LoL still stands for “laugh and loud,” COD still means “cash on delivery.”
But for the growing number of esports fans, COD is shorthand for one of the games in the esports universe, “Call of Duty,” and LoL is shorthand for what amounts to the flagship game, “League of Legends.”
And for 5% of Americans, esports continues to be a newfound hobby of theirs since more traditional sports have been canceled or otherwise postponed. To be clear: They are not playing these games. They are watching, following, and – most importantly – gambling on professional video gamers.
Very notably, CivicScience asked this same question back in early April, and the number of new esports followers has remained steady at the same 5%, suggesting Americans who need their sports fix – even if it comes in the form of video gamers from half a world away – came to esports swiftly after the lockdown.
So these 5% of new esports fans – what has been driving them? What brought them to this still-niche corner of the sports world?
The answer, simply, is gambling. Nearly 80% of new esports followers in the past month report either trying, or planning to try fantasy esports, namely via DraftKings and/or Fanduel, as these daily fantasy sports behemoths are the only games in town offering these competitions. Furthermore, the vast majority of those people report enjoying the experience. (Also notable: When CivicScience first looked at this possible correlation between sports betting and esports in April, there simply wasn’t one. As time has marched on, it would certainly appear the uptick in esports interest is tied to people wanting something to gamble on.)
Esports is still a younger generation’s game, with 10% of Gen Z reporting following esports as a new hobby in the quarantine world, with that number dropping the further up the generational ladder you go.
And while the NFL – traditionally the most wagered-upon sport in America – doesn’t quite need to be shaking in their spikes fearing esports will eat into its sports fandom domination, it’s worth noting 73% of new-since-quarantine esports fans also count themselves as NFL fans.
Obviously, esports is still a niche activity, though it’s poised to grow as it’s clearly an endeavor that attracts younger generations. But marketers in the esports and gambling world would be wise to take notice of who came to the sport in the last few months, as it’s by and large people who enjoy having money riding on the outcome.