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The European esports market has left behind the notion of being a niche product. With unprecedented growth in both audiences and revenue, it is becoming an interesting opportunity to approach younger consumers for both endemic and non-endemic brands.
COMPETITIVE video-gaming, known collectively under the banner of esports, continues to grow in popularity throughout Europe, packing out stadiums, encroaching onto the channels of established media and attracting sponsors from well outside the traditional circle of information technology and software companies.
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This study, Let’s Play! – The European Esports Market, investigates the business of esports in Europe with a particular focus applied to Germany, the largest and one of the most advanced esports markets on the continent. The growth of esports in Europe is not a short-term phenomenon, rather it mirrors a sustained and constant expansion that has taken place worldwide.
For the esports market to maintain its growth, newly implemented leagues, such as the League of Legends European Championships (EU LEC) franchise, as well as new esports titles must prove successful. Meanwhile, existing tournaments need to exploit the popularity of the booming esports scene and reach new spheres.
In this way, there will be a positive impact on the size and monetisation of the esports audience, which will lead to an increase in commercial and media rights revenues to the benefit of all esports stakeholders.
Besides defining the market size and development, this study focuses on the major market drivers, and examines the significance of franchise leagues, the increasing M&A activity, and the growing media engagement in esports. This latter trend is crucial to the ability of esports to compete with ‘traditional sports’, such as basketball, handball, ice hockey or even soccer.
As part of this report a consumer survey was conducted across various European countries. The intention was to investigate perceptions of esports on an international level. If, as assumed, the global audience continues to grow and attract further commercial partners and transmittal platforms, then significant investor interest in European esports can be expected.
This growing interest will be reflected in the number of transactions as well as in the investment volumes of M&A activities in the European esports market. Ongoing equity investments and the implementation of additional closed league systems will enable esports to take further significant steps towards maturation in the near future. To explain the background of closed league systems, this report also places an added focus on the recently launched EU LEC league and includes an interview with Alban Dechelotte, Head of Sponsorships & Business Development EU at Riot Games.