One of Europe’s biggest eSports brands, Team Vitality, has today announced its first all-Indian mobile eSports roster. The move represents the Paris-based eSports brand’s first major expansion beyond Europe and its first foray into the world of mobile eSports. The announcement reconfirms the brand’s plans to globalise its teams into Asia and South America.
The eSports team is backed by the Switzerland-based Rewired Esports Venture Fund, which has so far invested €34 million into Team Vitality, which was founded with just €10,000 in 2013. Rewired claims that the world will see its first unicorn eSports brands emerge in the coming years and that its investment will be amongst them.
eSports is a constituent of the global video games and eSports market, which is expected to be worth $162 billion by 2023. It is estimated that there are over 245 million casual esports viewers and 198 million esports enthusiasts worldwide. A 2019 survey found that 32% of Internet users aged between 16 and 24 watched eSports (compared to 6% aged 55 to 64).
Average revenue per eSports viewer grew from $1.96 to $2.14 between 2018 and 2020. This is low in ‘conventional’ sports terms. A report by Goldman Sachs suggests that monetisation per fan in sports such as the NFL and NHL is $54 and $90. A 2020 survey by Deloitte also found that only 26% of eSports viewers in Europe pay for eSports content.
However according to PwC, spending on eSports is growing at a compound rate of 18.3%. The firm says that eSports is also increasingly taking its hold on the attention of younger consumers and influencing their spending decisions. Past experience in segments like social media show that where the attention of young consumers goes, dollars soon follow.
Growing an eSports brand is not an inexpensive business. In 2018 Riot Games confirmed that the buy-in for a slot in the European League of Legends franchise is €8 to €10.5m. Since 2018 Team Vitality has also become the resident eSports team at France’s national stadium the Stade de France and has also built a custom state-of-the-art 10,700 sq ft public esports complex in the centre of Paris – the biggest in Europe.
Rewired is amongst a growing cohort of professional eSports investors making the calculus that growing the monetisation per fan to achieve equivalence with the NFL or NHL will be an inevitable consequence of capturing more viewers and fans through globalisation. With more than 50% of India’s 1.3 billion population aged under 25, achieving eSports penetration amongst this demographic to US or European levels could add over 208 million new fans.