Gamers Watched 2.4 Billion Hours of eSports in 2013

New report suggests that figure will more than double in the next few years.

The popularity of watching eSports continues to soar worldwide, with 2.4 billion hours of eSports video viewed during 2013, according to a newly released IHS Technology report.

According to the report (via Gamasutra), that figure is up from 1.3 billion hours in 2012 and is only expected to continue growing: By 2018, that number will reach an estimated 6.6 billion hours. 2013 marked the first time that eSports viewing online surpassed that of television, and it did so by a large margin--almost three times as many hours were spent watching eSports online than on television. By 2018, online viewing will represent 90 percent of time spent watching eSports.

As you'd expect, given its massive player base, League of Legends was the most popular game among eSports viewers, followed by Dota 2 and StarCraft II.

"ESports videos have rapidly transformed from a niche activity into a widely-watched, global, cross-platform entertainment category,” said IHS digital media research director Dan Cryan. "Several factors are contributing to the surge in esports viewing. These include the fact that key game titles have reached maturity and game publishers are taking a major role in promoting esports competitions. Furthermore, eSports viewing has been boosted by the emergence of online video platforms that are capable of handling large-scale live audiences."

The eSports video market will be worth $300 million annually by 2018, IHS said, which goes a long way in explaining why YouTube recently made the move to acquire game streaming service Twitch, though the deal is not yet complete.

"While advertising in and around games has often proved to be a difficult proposition, advertising in online video is commonplace,” said IHS games research director Piers Harding-Rolls. "This form of advertising gives games companies a much better opportunity of accessing the advertising value chain in a successful and meaningful way and offers these companies a route to profitable return on investment from their eSport initiatives."

This is far from the first indication we've had that watching eSports--whether it's a "legitimate" sport or not--is becoming increasingly popular. Last year, more than 32 million people watched the League of Legends Season 3 World Championships (pictured above), and there were over 1 million concurrent viewers of the recent ESL tournament. Developers and publishers have more frequently made supporting eSports a priority, including EA and Activision, and both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 allow gamers to stream their live gameplay online through Twitch, all of which should only help eSports viewing to continue to grow.

Have you spent any time watching eSports online in the past year and, if so, which games did you watch?

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

93 comments
Junior_AIN
Junior_AIN

The only thing slightly interesting in E-sports is Counter Strike, and even that after three games seeing people play dust2 with improved graphics got old.

MBirdy88
MBirdy88

Why am I not surprised that most people opposed to this have single player game avatars? It's not even aimed at that crowd. (Though speed runs are very impressive.). Simple put most of the hypocrits here find watching top quality players compete is "sad" yet you are on a casual gaming news website that essentially is outdated saying how sad you think it is?


Who is really sad in that scenario?


People like watching others play something at a high skill level, because its entertaining, the same applies for games. but yea, keep playing your single player RPG's where you barely have to think.... and watch some cutscenes... because thats so stimulating in comparison -_-;


How is it different to watching sports or regular tv? I bet you people watch things 10x more mindless than any esport event.


open your eyes, your not cool because you think its sad... your the opposite. time to get off that false pedestal.

faizanhd
faizanhd

The condescension in these comments is amazing.

You not watching any form of esports makes you instantly better than those who do ?

Those who watch it, watch it because they love the game and they love playing the game.

And playing those games also require not just skill but immense amount of knowledge. Knowledge which you gain through WATCHING people better than you play.

The reason YOU and I don't watch them is because we don't play them or we don't play them well enough to earn money through local or international tournaments.

Just because you don't play these games doesn't make you special. It just means you're a regular, mundane person like everyone else.

Apofis_SG-1
Apofis_SG-1

Watch how someone playing DotA2, StarCraft2 and other games? What a waste of time. There is a better ways of spending free time.

bluebird08
bluebird08

I'm too busy playing video games.

joke_man
joke_man

*Gamers watched 2.4 billion hours of other games game against each other competitively.  


There, fixed it for you, Gamespot.  You're welcome :)

ECH71
ECH71

Playing sports > watching sports.


Watching eSports however is just as wasteful of time as watching real sports.

day3002
day3002

I never watched it and never will. waste of time.

zenstrata
zenstrata

I STILL do not understand e-sports.  Nor do I understand regular sports for that matter.  It's one thing if you are playing in the game, be it basketball, softball, football or e-ball?....  Then I can see how a person would enjoy being a part of those things.


But I still do not understand why people just go watch something when they could get a lot more enjoyment by playing it for themselves.  When I enjoy a game, I go play it myself.  I do NOT go watch someone else play it.  The entire exercise of watching someone else play, when you could be playing yourself... seems to be a rather pointless endeavor to me.

bubba_1988
bubba_1988

I've seen televised darts, poker and bowling matches all on tv, and we all know how boring that is to watch (on tv). So yeah I can believe the stats on eSports. 

shoguntake
shoguntake

Personally I watch NBA, it's entertaining to me, hasn't been it's best this year but I still enjoy it. I watch rugby league (I'm from Aus) and again, it appeals to me especially since I played the sport myself.


But watching E-Sports is what I don't understand. I don't see any entertainment value nor any real reason why you'd rather watch than play and instead of watching athletes you're watching people move their fingers around.

WereCatf
WereCatf

@faizanhd "You not watching any form of esports makes you instantly better than those who do ?" -- Mm..yes, it does.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@faizanhd Wait a minute are you telling me that all 2 - 4 billion hours being watched are only from people who play in tournaments? No way!

Besides most of the fun of a game is playing and learning how to do things yourself.

jemoedr
jemoedr

@Apofis_SG-1 It can actually be enjoyable. I love watching Starcraft 2 tournaments. Seeing large battles, the tactics, the incredible microplay of players like Grubby. 

shingui5
shingui5

@day3002

Apparently, there are tens of millions who disagree with you. 

jemoedr
jemoedr

@shoguntake You don't watch the movement of the player, but what happens on the screen...


Mentally the games are pretty intensive. Why shouldn't it be called a sport?

Greyslay
Greyslay

@shoguntake I agree with shingui5 skill is skill regardless of what it is. Granted most of these esports guy may have be physically fit I dunno never watched a match myself but they must have hella hand/eye coordination for what they do. I may love watching football but that doesn't mean I have the skill to go out and do what they do for the months that they play. I personally suck at FPS and games like LoL/Dota2 but they have never been my thing far as games go but would be interesting to watch highly skilled people at it.

merp1991
merp1991

@shoguntake that's like saying why watch any sport when you can play it yourself. many people see value in watching professionals do their thing, whether it's a traditional sport or an e-sport.

shingui5
shingui5

@shoguntake

Does it matter how much of the body is actually in motion?

Skill is skill, and as with most sports, watching people with a very high skill level, is enjoyable within itself. 

001011000101101
001011000101101

@MBirdy88 @001011000101101 Nah I prefer to spend most of my time on productive things. Not watch some dude play a video game. If I absolutely have to waste time on games I might as well play them myself.

MBirdy88
MBirdy88

@WereCatf @faizanhd people like you are pathetic. why is this a bad thing, when watching people kick  a leather ball is any better? oh the physical fitness? who the f*ck says thats the only kind of game that matters?


Sad how nerds will still be embarrased to like things like this.

MBirdy88
MBirdy88

@Dannystaples14 Danny... just stop. esport is entirely different from watching someone play a Final Fantasy game.... no matter how much you play... people are limited... these games actually have high skill cielings... not Attack > Cure > summon > attack > cure for 60 hours.... entirely different level.... that 99% of people can't match those at the top. meanwhile anyone can beat a FF game by memorising a boss or mindlessly grinding some more.


and you say figure it out? people who have played 2000-3000 hours of DoTA are still in the low end of the ranking system... why? because its so deep you don't simply work it out by yourself always.

Apofis_SG-1
Apofis_SG-1

@jemoedr @Apofis_SG-1 Yes, I dont doubt it can be enjoyable moments if you are player, and you can learn something too from it. Im not judging.

Apofis_SG-1
Apofis_SG-1

@MBirdy88 @Apofis_SG-1 Yes, I dont watch sports. Why watch basketball when you can get band of friends and go play it yourself? Unless ofcourse one of my country basketball teams plays important match (like finals of Eurobasket or something) and we decided to meet with friends ant watch it at someones house, then yes, rarely but yes. Other than that I dont watch sports, not much of a point.

zenstrata
zenstrata

@tomservo51 @zenstrata  Sounds like the skill of the average gamer is pretty low then.  I have tried watching these e-sports off and on over the years, and I have never seen a player which was able to do something which I did not feel I could do myself.  All it takes is practice, dedication, and hand-eye coordination.

So long as you do not have some sort of physical problem, then you can do exactly what these people do.  The only thing that is lacking is the willingness to dedicate yourself to really putting in the time and practice to accomplish those goals.

joke_man
joke_man

@shingui5 @shoguntake


"Does it matter how much of the body is actually in motion?"


So, everything that involves movement, from brain activity to moving pieces on a gameboard, is a sport?!?!


Seems like people are stretching their imaginations to the max.  Why not just call it competitive gaming???

MBirdy88
MBirdy88

@001011000101101 @MBirdy88 a complete lie considering you are on this very website, bothering to post to rile people up.... multiple times I might add.


Just because you are behind a computer... doesn't mean your hard to read. your full of it.

R10nu
R10nu

@zenstrata So what games exactly did you watch?

Because i can see how console CoD tournaments are unimpressive. Low skill ceiling.

Also, the console e-sports disciplines (besides fighting games) are flavour-of-the-year.

They don't have the capacity to become impressive since they don't stick around long enough.

shingui5
shingui5

@zenstrata

And winning an Olympic gold at running only requires a lot of dedication and willingness, seeing as we all have legs. I guess Mo Farah is undeserving of it, because you can do it as well? 

faizanhd
faizanhd

@zenstrata

Then why aren't you swimming in cash from all that "skill" of yours ?

joke_man
joke_man

@MBirdy88 @joke_man @tomservo51


Nobody cares about your physical abuse of the definition of sport in an attempt to contort it out of self-laudatory, ridiculous purposes to feel better about yourself. 

MBirdy88
MBirdy88

@joke_man @shingui5 @shoguntake E-Sport ... ELECTRONIC SPORT.... is not the same as SPORT ... honestly... how is that hard to get into your head?


@shoguntake 


... its the exact same thing. but then most people on this forum are console gamers who don't play high skill cieling games.... so I understand why E-sport is mis-represented here.


Games like Starcraft / Dota ect ... yes you can play them.... but you and I are utter garbage at them compared to the e-sport level teams.... and what they pull off is damn impressive, regardless of joke-mans pathetic "you only move your hands" ... if thats the case joke-man .... go be the best if its that easy.... jeez....

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@shingui5 @turbojugend16 Doesn't matter if everyone on the planet disagrees with you really does it? If you dislike something for your own reasons then that is all that matters.

Just being a sheep because everyone else is isn't going to protect you from the wolves.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@shingui5 That literally is all it takes. Anyone could get to Mo Farahs standard if they ran and trained as much as he does.

The way I see it if a person can do something and they are not an abnormal person, i.e. they aren't a cyborg or something or have a mental condition which means they have an advantage then they are not special.

Any regular human can do something, then so can every other regular human being.

zenstrata
zenstrata

@faizanhd @zenstrata  Because I like my games to stay enjoyable.  Turning the game into your job, where it is practically all you ever do so you can remain at a highly competitive level due to regular practice, it takes the fun out of the game and turns it into a job.  There is also a huge amount of stress added into gaming when it gets to that level.  And I play games to relax and have fun.  Not to stress out and do everything as perfectly as possible.

I choose to make my money doing other things.  Also when you talk to e-sports players, Most of them are not 'swimming in cash'.  Most of them make just enough to get by like the rest of us.  The odds of you becoming rich doing it are actually pretty low.

joke_man
joke_man

@MBirdy88 @joke_man @shingui5 @shoguntake


Nice straw-man.  LOL


Nobody said competitive gaming was easy; but that it's just not a sport of any kind.  The point was saying it's a sport based on movement.  The point being is that if by that definition, you can call anything and everything a sport, literally defeating the definition.


Chess is a boardgame that only a few have truly mastered.  Neither you or I have the skill to compete with amateurs, but it's still not a sport.


Being difficult to master doesn't make something a sport.  Nice job straw-manning the argument ;)

joke_man
joke_man

@shingui5 @joke_man @shoguntake


This argument is self-defeating.  Why even call it a sport at all?  


It's all a "marketing" ploy by the big companies backing competitive gaming.  The want it to sound cool and appealable to more people.  


Except, the whole tactic and idea of it is just wrong (period).  Nothing to do with small mindedness, but nice little ad hominem to avoid the merits and issues...lol

R10nu
R10nu

@001011000101101 

So it's ok to do useless crap if you're "on a break".

What was your point again?