According to the latest research by Newzoo's analysts, global esports revenues are expected to grow to $1.1 billion in 2019 and, much like the current crop of popular sports, a large chunk of those is expected from brand investments.
This is indeed a unique milestone for esports as the revenues kept below the one billion dollar mark so far, whereas 2019 is expected to bring on-year growth of 26.7 per cent, or $210.3 million.
North America will once again lead the way, generating $409.1 million in revenue, which is 37.3 per cent of the global total, while China will account for $210.3 million.
Interestingly, it seems the esports market is finally recognising the importance of brand building, which Newzoo expects to become more evident in 2019. Building a canon around individuals and their stories does indeed go a long way, or at least it has with traditional sports.
"Teams, in particular, need to focus on clearly communicating what they stand for and what makes them stand out, essentially showcasing their unique selling points to brands", the report states.
Brand recognition, team-based narratives and even home stadiums will all result in growing interest media rights, advertising and sponsorship, which are expected to rake in $897.2 million in revenue in 2019. Newzoo expect this number to grow to $1.5 billion in 2022, or 87 per cent of total esports revenues.
In terms of individual titles, the big four, League of Legends, Dota 2, CS:GO and Overwatch, still lead the way and the gap is widening. In fact, the four made up for 85 per cent of the live Twitch viewership by the top 10 esports games in 2018, up from 83 per cent the year before.
Nevertheless, this doesn't mean there's no place for mid-tier esports games, as the tier lists names like Rocket League, Rainbow Six: Siege and even Fortnite: Battle Royale, even though the latter's following means that top-tier wouldn't be impossible should Epic step up their esports game.
In terms of viewership, Newzoo expect the audience to grow to 452.8 million in 2019. "The overall game video content audience, like esports, will continue to grow at a rapid pace, increasing from 750 million people in 2018 to more than a billion by 2022", the report says.
You can find Newzoo's Global esports market report here.