Watching people play video games is becoming increasingly popular around the globe. ESports, which originated in South Korea in the late 1990s, are continuing to gain traction, and than hundreds of millions of people are becoming aware of the growing phenomenon.
Newzoo says 1.1 billion people will be aware of eSports this year, and that number will rise increase by 400 million in 2019. With the number moving past 1 billion, the number of consumers is up 36 percent.
"Explosive growth in coverage from global and local media, an intensified effort from game publishers, as well as the launch of an abundance of new leagues and events have accelerated the global exposure of esports beyond initial expectations," Newzoo said in a statement.
A year ago an estimated 809 million people were aware of eSports, and that’s expected to increase to 1.572 billion in three years. There are an estimated 148 million eSports enthusiasts in 2016, and that could grow to 215 million in 2019.
Most of the awareness of eSports comes from outside the United States. Twenty-eight percent of the global awareness is in China, and 22 percent is from the European Union. Just 15 percent of the total comes from North America.
But that doesn’t mean the U.S. isn’t paying attention. ESPN has even begun to cover it, offering a link to eSports on their website. Video game publisher Riot Games partnered with Big Ten Network to show an Ohio State vs. Michigan State competition in Boston on April 25. Events like the LoL World Championships in 2013 sold out Staples Center in Los Angeles. Sponsorships have also been on the rise from the likes of Coca-Cola and Red Bull.
According to Newzoo, global eSports revenues are expected to reach $463 million this year. Fortune reported in October that eSports make over $321 million in revenue in Asia. North America comes in second at $224 million with the U.S. at about $215 million. Europe accounts for $172 million, and the rest of the world is at $29 million.