The entire eSports industry has boomed in recent years, with millions of viewers tuning in to watch their favorite games being played by some of the best gamers in the world. The surge in the number of eSports fans created a huge space for brands and advertisers to sell their products. Moreover, it fueled the growth of sponsorships as the largest revenue stream of the eSports industry.
According to data presented by Safe Betting Sites, eSports sponsorships are forecast to grow by 10% year-over-year and hit $641 million in value in 2021.
Sponsorships to Account for 59% of the Global Gaming Revenues
The COVID-19 left a significant impact on the global gaming industry, with many revenue streams witnessing substantial drops. The Newzoo data show that last year the entire gaming market generated $950.3 million in revenue, 0.8% less than in 2019.
Despite that, eSports sponsorships grew by 7.5% YoY to $584.1 million. Statistics show this figure is set to jump by $57 million in 2021, with sponsorships accounting for 59% of global gaming revenues this year.
However, the Newzoo data revealed other market segments are expected to witness even more impressive growth.
Media rights are forecast to jump by almost 18% to $192.6 million in 2021, up from $163.3 million a year ago.
The massive delays and cancelations of eSports events amid the COVID-19 caused publisher fees and merchandise and ticket revenues to drop by 11.6% and 50%, respectively. Nevertheless, both market segments are expected to witness substantial growth this year. Publisher fees are set to grow by 16% YoY to $126.6 million in 2021. Merchandise and ticket revenues are forecast to hit $66.6 million, 26.8% more than a year ago.
However, the Newzoo data indicate digital revenues are set to witness the most impressive growth in 2021, rising by CARG of 50% to $32.3 million. Streaming revenues follow with a 26% jump to $25.1 million, up from $19.9 million in 2020.
Red Bull, Comcast, and Intel Lead in Esports Sponsorships
Recent years have witnessed plenty of notable deals in the eSports industry. Still, some companies invested much more in eSports than others.
As the largest eSports sponsor globally, Red Bull signed their first contract with the eSports legend David Walsh back in 2006. Five years later, the company opened up the Red Bull LAN. Since then, Red Bull sponsored the Dota 2, Tempo Storm and Blizzard’s StarCraft 2 tournaments. In 2018 alone, the energy drink producer invested $578 million into eSports.
In December 2020, the company announced it had signed a long-term, multi-year partnership with T1 Entertainment & Sports, best known for its League of Legends team. The alliance will cover all of T1’s competitive teams and players, including those in VALORANT, Fortnite, PUBG Mobile, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and more.
Comcast Xfinity joined eSports in 2016 by providing reliable Internet service and training facilities for Electronic Sports League and Evil Geniuses.
The company also sponsors the Overwatch League playoffs and grand finals. In 2019, Comcast Spector and The Cordish Companies announced their plan to build a $50 million arena for the Philadelphia Fusion, an esports team in the Overwatch League.
As the third company on this list, the tech giant Intel has been sponsoring eSports since 2002. Today, the company sponsors ESL Pro League, Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One, Overwatch League and ESL National Championship and provides scholarships to students from the National Student Esports.
In 2018, Intel and ESL announced their three-year plan to shape the future landscape of eSports by investing in innovative technology, tournaments and events. The $100 million worth deal represents the biggest esports partnership so far.