Data from Nielsen Sport & Entertainment suggests that the fan audience of esports continues to grow at a rapid pace.

For their Esports Playbook 2019 they interviewed 1000 esports fan aged 16-49 from different countries to determine the percentage of new fans. The chart below shows the percentage of new fans within the past year.

Nielsen - Esports Fan Growth 2019

Source: Nielsen, The Esports Playbook 2019, survey samples = 1,000 esports fans aged 13-40. “Percentage of fans that started following esports in the past year”


There are a couple of interesting figures here with South Korea and Japan being two. South Korea has long been regarded as the birthplace of esports and with many years of government support and the world’s best gamers a large percentage of the population are already esports fans. This general acceptance of esports across the country means there are fewer people to “convert” into esports fans and so the percentage of new fans is lower.

Japan is the opposite. While some of the most loved companies, games and characters have come from Japan it was only recently that the country started to embrace esports. There have been a few Japanese teams and players who have ventured internationally in the past but there were very few structures to support esports. Over the past year this has changed with esports federations and more structured competitions (e.g. League of Legends) which has led to the new growth in the number of esports fans.


UAE youth sees esports as core activity

During the esports workshop we hosted with Nielsen in Dubai they presented some interesting figures for the UAE. From asking 1000 people in the UAE how they rank activities for their leisure time esports generated a positive result.

Nielsen - Esports ranking in UAE


Source: Nielsen Sports SDNA 2019. Based on 1,000 representative respondents in UAE aged between 16 and 69 marking their interest Top 2 box on a five point scale


In the 16-29 age bracket for UAE respondents esports was ranked 4th behind activities such as football. For the 16-49 age bracket esports slipped to rank 6th which shows that it is still a consideration for a slightly older demographic.

It will be interesting to conduct this research again once all the 5G towers are installed in the UAE. With easier access and improved player experience we may see a change in these figures. There may also be a natural shift as those at the top end of the youngest bracket (16-29). As they shift into the 16-49 bracket they will bring with them their enthusiasm for esports and gaming.

Philip Wride