eSports, the sport of competitive video gaming, is forecast to generate over £1bn in global revenue and have an audience of around 600 million people by the end of the decade.
Organized, multiplayer video game competitions, between professional players, can be staged in front of a live audience along with millions of additional viewers watching online (via platforms such as Twitch or YouTube).
Peter Warman, of eSport analysts Newzoo, was quoted by the BBC as saying that eSports has the potential to become “one of the top five sports in the world.”
Last year eSports generated $493m (£400m) in revenue and had a global audience of 320 million people.
The biggest revenue stream for the sport is through sponsorships – bringing in much more than advertising, tickets or merchandising.
Newzoo forecasts income to treble in the next four years, which would make eSports a $1.49bn (£1.21m) industry by 2020.
“The reason companies are investing in this is because they want more eyeballs and time to promote their product so people will spend more money on their games,” Warman said.
“Gaming has been the favourite pastime of the younger generation for a long time and esports branching out to live events is like becoming comparable to [traditional] sports.
“Brands now have a way to reach this audience that previously was so hard to reach, because gaming is transforming into something they understand. They can sponsor it and advertise so brands and other companies are jumping on this like crazy.
“We are going to see a lot of parallels that we see now in sports and that will take it to the next level.”