Esports Growth Slows Due to COVID-19, According to New Report

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After crossing $1 billion in 2021, the esports market continues with slower growth than in previous years. According to data presented by, esports revenues are expected to hit $1.6 billion in 2023, growing by an annual growth rate of 14%, which is less than the 17% and 27% year-over-year increase seen in the last two years.

After COVID-19 hit, esports and gaming became one of the most popular indoor and online activities for millions of people isolated in their homes. According to Statista data, more than 75 million people worldwide started watching esports in 2020 only, with the total number of viewers reaching 475 million that year. In 2021, the global esports audience hit over 524 million people. The surging interest in esports led to impressive revenue growth.

In 2021, global esports revenues jumped by 21% year-over-year to $1.2 billion. Last year saw a 17% annual growth, with the entire market reaching over $1.4 billion value. Still, Statista expects the annual growth rate to slip to 14% in 2023.

As the largest revenue stream, esports sponsorships are forecast to grow by 12% to $895 million, while in 2022, they grew 16% year-over-year. Media rights revenues will increase by 18% to $276 million, down from the 21% growth rate seen last year.

The merchandise and ticketing segment is expected to witness the biggest revenue growth decline. In 2022, this segment of the esports industry grew by 34% year-over-year and hit a $180 million value. Statistics show 2023 will see less than half that growth, with revenues rising by 16% year-over-year to $210.6 million.

Analyzed by geography, almost half of all esports revenues will come from China and the United States as the top two markets.

In the last three years, more than 125 million people worldwide started watching esports, driving the total number of viewers to 526 million in 2022. However, last year saw the smallest annual viewership increase in the last decade of only 0.5%.

Statista expects that to change in 2023, with more than 50 million people joining the global eaports fan club, a 10% year-over-year increase. The survey also showed that Chinese esports fans would make up one-third of global eSports viewership.

The rising trend is set to continue in the next two years, with the number of esports viewers growing by another 14% to 665 million by 2025.

The full report is here.