A growing number of people are tuning in online to watch professional gamers play Overwatch, League of Legends and other video games. Research firm Activate estimates that 63 million Americans watched an esport event last year. ESPN even has rankings for esports teams.
And advertisers are taking notice. Research firm eMarketer said in a report Thursday that it expects digital ad sales for esports to rise 25% to $178 million this year and grow another 20% in 2020 to nearly $215 million.
Of course, that’s small change compared to the billions of dollars pulled in for online search and mobile advertising, not to mention money spent on professional sports leagues like the NFL, NBA and MLB.
But the growth in esports will probably be just one more lucrative revenue stream for Amazon (AMZN) and Alphabet/Google (GOOGL). Emarketer said that esports executives consistently cited Amazon-owned Twitch and Google’s YouTube as the top platforms for esports viewing.