Leaderboard: Almost half of e-sports viewers don’t even play the games they’re spectating

It may sound crazy, but a huge number of people who pour eyeball time and money into e-sports don’t even play the games they’re watching. That’s according to gaming analytics firm Newzoo, which last week broke down its stats on the major e-sports franchises and who exactly is watching them in the U.S., Canada, Germany, U.K., France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden. Key takeaways?

  • 70% of viewers stick to one game.
  • 69% of gamers play only League of Legends, CS:GO, or DOTA 2 (the overlap of all three is 8%).
  • 42% of e-sports watchers of the big three games do not play any of them
  • 191 million people will tune in to e-sports “frequently” this year; an additional 194 million will do so “occasionally.”

Howsabout you? Do you watch, play, both, or neither?

Do you watch or play e-sports content?

  • I watch but don't play (17%, 40 Votes)
  • I play but don't watch (11%, 25 Votes)
  • I watch and play (21%, 49 Votes)
  • I don't watch or play (52%, 124 Votes)

Total Voters: 238

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Source: Newzoo via Kotaku
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88 Comments on "Leaderboard: Almost half of e-sports viewers don’t even play the games they’re spectating"

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Edward Duffy

I’ve got better things to do than watching someone else play video games, like playing them myself. For the life of me I don’t understand why anyone would want to watch someone else play a game.

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Ryan

Because I enjoy watching the professional play of a game that I don’t actually enjoy playing myself. I’m sure there are people who would look at the games you play and think ‘I’ve got better things to do than play that game”. People make time for what they enjoy.

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Veldan

Because it can be enjoyable to see someone at work who is very skilled. It’s just like watching actual sports. One could say “why would I want to watch someone play tennis? I’ve got better things to do, and if I didn’t I could play tennis myself”. But people still watch tennis because it’s fun to see a faceoff between players who are better than you’ll ever be. The same applies to games.

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Melissa McDonald

I feel like MMO players are generally too busy playing MMOs to be big fans of eSports, but I admit I simply “don’t get it” when it comes to watching people play video games. I feel like that is something you do at home in the console world when you have friends over. Treating it like a sport, I just don’t get it. There are real sports going on right now like NBA/NHL playoffs (go Preds!)…

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Vorender

It’s crazy to me that people watch others play video games. The fact most don’t even play the games they are watching is another level of “that guy has too much time on his hands.” And yes, I’m slightly jealous. :)

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Ryan

I find it amusing but slightly frustrating that you see people who watch esports as ‘that guy has too much time on his hands’.

I watch some esports for games that I don’t play because I enjoy watching. I don’t watch soaps on tv like a lot of people. You make time for the things you enjoy, it’s nothing to do with how much time you have.

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David Goodman

I watch esports and games. I do play, but casually. Here’s my perspective:

I could watch someone ‘play a video game’; the people I watch are entertaining to me, I find them funny and engaging (that’s what makes a good online personality, YouTube or Twitch.)

Or I could watch whatever rehashed storyline from a rebooted prequil of a sub-plot is on TV.

i’m 36 – i’m not exactly young; I grew up pre-internet entirely where TV / movies were IT. I find. Television. Insufferably. Boring.

As for “too much time on his hands”? That’s just a little insulting and strange to hear – wouldn’t playing AND watching mean someone has too much time on their hands? How much time do you think it takes to watch someone do something? Do you think that if I tune into a twitch streamer that i’m forced to watch them for the full duration of their 6-hour stream, or do you believe in an adult’s free will to say “Okay, i’ve watched this for half an hour while waiting for the laundry to dry, time to finish the EVERYTHING ELSE I DO with my life now”?

I mean, come on – make an effort here.

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Modrain

I play before watching in all cases. Then, if I’m really interested in the game, I might watch. That’s what I did a few years ago, first with StarCraft II, then with League of Legends. It’s been quite some time since I last watched e-sports, though.

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Sally Bowls

On CNBC, I think it was tech billionaire Cuban, recently discussing Snap’s earnings described them as “opaque to people of a certain age” which struck me as more polite than some tacky and more overtly ageist comment about being too old to get it. (Once when lunching with a friend, her 20 YO daughter sent a Snapchat to her now ex boyfriend and I remarked “ooh, I did not know one could send a Snapchat while clothed.”)
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Some commenters are fixated on # of players. When WoW and EVE’s revenue goes up, do they care near as much in the number of players go down? Would a company rather have an additional 100k players or 10000k viewers? eSports seem likely to be part of the monetization of most future large games.
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I can no reiterate enough how disinterested I am in eSports or at least its players. However, the ratio of viewed an esport to played a MMO in 2016 has to be approaching 2000%. Far more people who don’t play esports watch esports than play MMOs. I so get disliking and resenting eSports. But the people complaining about companies investing in eSports instead of MMOs just strike me as being bad at math and business.

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Loyal Patron
Rottenrotny

Who are all these millions of people who watch this crap? Because I literally don’t know anyone who’s interested in e-sports and remain unconvinced that there are that many.

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David Goodman

You can look up this information in literally a minute. And I mean literally in the actual, literal definition of the word ‘literally’, not in whatever version you’re using.

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Loyal Patron
Armsbend

It isn’t science. Go on twitch and look at the numbers of people watching each game. Add em’ up. Bingo.

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Utakata

We’re *LOD on this. That is, League of Disinterested. o.O

*Note: Not to get confused with Line of Defence. >.>

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Leiloni

If you compare it to real sports, it’s the same there. A lot of people know the rules of the sports they watch on tv but don’t play it themselves. Just because they enjoy watching, doesn’t necessarily mean they’d enjoy doing. It doesn’t seem all that strange in that light.

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Doubleplusgood

I dont get it. How could you know or understand what is going on in the game if you dont play it? it will look like just a bunch of numbers and graphics.

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Veldan

Eh, have you ever watched anything that could be considered esports? Usually there’s not much numbers, and it’s quite easy to see what’s going on. Games that are very difficult to understand, or with a lot of UI, don’t become esports because noone wants to watch them.

miol
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miol

DotA 2, for instance, has sometimes for bigger events a separate stream channel with moderators breaking it down what’s going on for an audience, who don’t know the game. It’s actually highly popular, as those moderators are quite skilled on keeping explanation very compact, while staying on what’s happening! It really doesn’t feel those explanations are in the way! While the prominent moderated streams get their own fair amount of explanations anyway, as there is always enough time to fill between encounters!

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Diego Lindenmeyer

Just like ppl watching any other sport around xD