Is esports for the initiated few or is it becoming part of popular culture?

Many think of esports as a niche industry for so-called computer nerds that gather in large gymnasiums around the world for a weekend of online gaming. However, with more and more people getting into esports, not to mention brands, it looks like esports is becoming more mainstream.

One of the biggest indicators that esports are becoming part of popular culture is the sheer number of active players and audiences. According to Statista, a leading provider of market and consumer data, the global esports audience has reached 474 million enthusiasts with an additional 240 million occasional viewers.

Inevitably, with such a large following, global brands are catching on, with everything from sports apparel to drinks and mainstream fashion entering into partnerships with the rights holders. But it’s not only large brands that want in on the action - celebrities, musicians and former sports stars are all among the people who have invested in esports, including Mark Cuban, NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, former MLB star Alex Rodriguez, high-profile NFL owners Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones, and celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Tony Robbins, and Jennifer Lopez, according to CNBC.

Esports’ unique component of gaming and live streaming has made the perfect storm in a world consumed by social media. Video gaming-specific streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming give fans a direct connection to the players and teams, while more mainstream socials have allowed those connections to flourish.

Esports, with its setup resembling real life teams with players, franchises, owners, fans and endorsements, have become a fitting alternative in a world hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic, where even traditional clubs were forced to bring engagement online. This shift, along with the movement into mainstream culture, has helped power an explosion of investment into esports and subsequently hiked up their values. According to Forbes, the most valuable esports teams rival even some real life clubs, with the five most valuable esports teams being TSM at USD410 million, Cloud9 at USD350 million, Team Liquid at USD310 million, FaZe Clan at USD305 million, and 100 Thieves at USD190 million.

Paul Poole (South East Asia) Co., Ltd. is an independent marketing consultancy based in Bangkok, Thailand specialising in commercial sponsorship and partnership marketing, working with both rights holders and brands - acting as a catalyst by bringing them together and maximising the relationship.

We have packaged, sold and managed sponsorship and partnership opportunities for a wide range of rights holders and worked with many of the world’s leading brands to source and engage the right sponsorships and partnerships for them to maximise.

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