The competitive video gaming industry’s ad business is thriving.
U.S. online ad revenue for e-sports, including sponsorships, is expected to grow 25% to a record $178.1 million this year, research firm eMarketer said Thursday.
That money will come from digital ads, but does not include ad or sponsorship revenue collected by traditional television, which broadcasts a number of major tournaments.
“E-sports was once an under-the-radar activity for enthusiasts of multiplayer online games,” eMarketer principal analyst Paul Verna said in a statement. “Just a few years later, it’s a multimillion-dollar business in the U.S., with implications for game developers, players, leagues, teams, live venues, streaming platforms, TV networks, audiences and marketers.”
E-sports has exploded in popularity with the rise of now major players like the Overwatch League, run by Activision-Blizzard, and the NBA 2K League, run by game publisher Take-Two Interactive and the NBA. In addition to ads and sponsorships, e-sports generates revenue from media rights deals, ticket sales, and merchandising.