eSports in the US – Is It Popular?

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Esports is a global international phenomenon. And although the industry is usually perceived as a single integral sphere, it is possible to single out separate regions in it that are interesting for their specifics. One of these is North America. It is both a major manufacturer and one of the main consumers in the esports market. 

When we talk about eSports in North America the first country that comes to our mind is the United States. There are a lot of professional gamers, not to mention streamers who use Twitch to regularly demonstrate their games. Let’s have a look at the general situation of eSports in the United States and whether it is popular or not. 

How Everything Began?

If we exclude the 80s competition in games like Donkey Kong or Pac-Man, where players tried to break each other’s records in absentia, esports began to take shape in the United States in the 90s: then the first tournaments began to be held and the first teams appeared. By the early 2010s, it had turned from entertainment for amateurs into a real business.

As we are talking about business and activities related to eSports it is necessary to point out that the discipline finds emergence in sportsbooks too. As online betting and the culture of gambling is at its highest level in the United States, year after year numerous bookmakers started offering betting on different esports. Because of that eSports betting in US in recent years has reached immense heights. Right now it is more popular than a lot of traditional sports and the trend shows no signs of slowing down.

eSports is Rapidly Developing – Twitch is the Main Reason

Esports needed their own “television”, and streaming became that. The gaming broadcast market is oligopolistic. Twitch is the industry leader in audience reach: it has been several times ahead of a few competitors for seven years now. Twitch is popular not only in the United States – it is a global platform that now unites not only Western video game fans, but also a part of the Asian audience. Only China, which has its own popular streaming sites, stands apart. 

Twitch’s skyrocketing growth since 2011 shouldn’t come as a surprise: game streaming began to gain traction in Europe and America before it. Initially, the main streaming service in the West was Own3d.TV, which functionally did not differ from the already established broadcasting format – broadcast window and chat. However, it lost the competition to Twitch in just two years. 

Own3d disappointed both viewers and streamers: the former complained about the quality of the broadcasts, and the latter were annoyed by delays in payments. As a result, in January 2013 own3d closed, although a few months before that the service wanted to acquire Machinima for $5 million. A year later, Amazon bought Twitch for almost a billion dollars. Ironically, own3d.now serves Twitch: the site has become an online store where you can buy Twitch overlays, widgets or create emoticons. It’s not just tournaments that are associated with broadcasting. Former and current pro players are some of the most popular streamers on Twitch. For example, the top 10 by the number of followers includes former C9 CS: GO player shroud, ex-Team Dignitas carry in LoL Michael Imaqtpie Santana and TSM captain in Fortnite Myth. 

Unlike China (where there is serious competition between platforms), Twitch does not need to make exclusive deals with players. Compared to YG, the platform offers a profitable monetization system: streamers receive at least $ 2.5 from each paid subscription. Together with donations, this brings players huge sums: the most popular Twitch streamer under the nickname Ninja earns $ 500 thousand a month. 

YouTube, on the other hand, imposes very strict requirements on content if video bloggers want to make money on advertising (you can’t just cover wars, political conflicts or cataclysms, you can’t even use foul language). Moreover, YouTubers began to complain that the platform stopped promoting videos even for regular viewers of their channels. According to the same PewDiePie, the hosting demonetised his video for no objective reason – YouTube does not explain. Journalists believe that over time, more and more video bloggers will leave for Twitch. However, something may change for the better for YouTube: soon the site will introduce the possibility of a paid subscription to popular channels.

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