With a continued rise in viewers globally, could eSports become mainstream?

eSports is expected to attract 167 million viewers around the globe per month by the end of 2018.

In a report published in June, Goldman Sachs said it expects eSports to surpass Major League Baseball and National Hockey League viewership, reaching 300 million viewers by 2022. "The immense popularity of survival-based games like Fortnite, growing prize pools for eSports tournaments, the rise of live-streaming, and improving infrastructure for pro leagues have all paved the way for eSports to reach 300 million viewers by 2022, on par with NFL leadership today," said the firm in the report.

The report also noted that eSports is becoming more mainstream and is expected to reach a 14 percent audience growth for the next five years. The firm believes that eSports monetisation will reach US$3 billion by 2022.

eSports appeared for the first time in the recently held Asian Games in Jakarta from 18 August to 2 September. Featuring as a demonstration sport, the inclusion is the first step towards greater recognition from conventional sports and is seen by many as a step closer to eSports being included in the Olympic Games as well. In November last year, the International Olympic Committee recognised eSports as a sporting activity, and it will be a full medal event at the 2022 Asian Games.

The appearance as a demonstration sport at the Asian Games is indicative of the rise in eSports in Asia. According to Channel News Asia, the region’s young population is the fastest growing eSports market, with PC and mobile games revenues hitting US$2.2 billion in 2017, a number projected to double by 2021, according to research by Niko Partners.

"The Asian Games will help e-sports become more mainstream in Southeast Asia and Asia," said Johnson Yeh, who manages the region for the Tencent-owned studio Riot Games, whose blockbuster game League of Legends was also at the event. "Being in the Asian Games legitimises our sport further among mass audiences and governments, while providing a legitimate sports dream for the players," Yeh said.

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