Esports Spectatorship in Australia
AuthorGibbs, M; Carter, M; Cumming, D; Fordyce, R; Witkowski, E
Source TitleEsports Spectatorship in Australia
PublisherNetworked Society Institute
AffiliationComputing and Information Systems
CitationsGibbs, M., Carter, M., Cumming, D., Fordyce, R. & Witkowski, E. (2018). Esports Spectatorship in Australia. Networked Society Institute.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access URLPublished version
Esports – the organised, professional and spectated play of competitive digital games – has evolved into a massive global industry in the past decade. Boasting significant market value and broad global audience reach, esports is driven by modern highspeed internet infrastructure and live-streaming platforms like Twitch.tv. However, esports has yet to take hold as an industry in Australia, largely due to geographical isolation from major esports regions compounded by Australia’s traditionally lacklustre network infrastructure. Although the esports industry relies on various revenue streams, sponsorship and advertising deals provide the industry’s main source of funding. Teams, tournaments and esports organisations of various sizes are sponsored by major international companies like Intel, Samsung and Mercedes-Benz. This is unsurprising considering the global reach of esports. According to the ‘market intelligence’ firm Newzoo (2017), the esports audience in 2017 is estimated to be 385 million, with rough half of those being ‘enthusiasts’ and the other half ‘occasional viewers’. Furthermore, they estimate that the esports industry generated roughly US $696 million in revenue through ticket sales, media rights, game publisher fees, advertising and merchandise, sponsorship, media rights, in-game microtransactions, and betting in 2017. Newzoo estimates this amount to grow to US $906 million in 2018. Revenue growth for the esports industry has been significant, with current estimates pointing to a year-over-year growth of 41% in 2017, of which US$517 million is in advertising, sponsorship, and media rights (Newzoo 2017). While global industry reports are optimistic about the future of esports, the Australian esports scene is limited in comparison to overseas markets. In this report, we start by approximating the size of the esports market in Australia by comparing publicly available statistics and collecting a list of major global and Australian esports events. Secondly, we provide an overview of key Australian esports titles, explaining how they’re played as esports and their place within the Australian esports landscape. Thirdly, we explore the practice of spectating esports and discuss motivations behind esports spectatorship. We then present a preliminary study consisting of 18 semi-structured interviews with esports spectators regarding their engagement with and consumption of esports content. From our findings, we identify and detail three salient categories of non-exclusive esports spectator types: players, fans and recruits. We conclude with a summary of key changes in the Australia esports landscape during 2018 and important upcoming developments.
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