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League of Legends World Championship


The global video game live-streaming audience will reach 728.8 million in 2021, representing a 10 percent increase over 2020, Newzoo reports. Of this audience, 474 million people will tune into esports content, a jump of 8.7 percent year-over-year.

Newzoo has released its first-ever Global Esports and Live Streaming Market Report that explores the relationship between livestream audiences and esports. Data was compiled based on the viewing habits of global audiences who watched livestream gaming content at least once in the past six months.

This year’s audience will be split down the middle between esports enthusiasts and occasional viewers, at 49 and 51 percent, respectively. Newzoo defined esports enthusiasts as those who watch professional esports content at least once per month while occasional viewers tune in less frequently.

Games Live Streaming Audience Growth Chart

China will dominate the market for gaming-related livestreaming this year with an audience of 193.0 million. China will also be home to the most esports enthusiasts in 2021 with 92.8 million, followed by the U.S. and Brazil.

Accelerated by the pandemic, the global gaming livestream audience is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.2 percent and reach 920.3 million by 2024.

To put that into perspective, 593.2 million people watched livestream gaming content in 2019, before the pandemic. That number leaped 11.7 percent as audiences found themselves in lockdown, unable to attend live events, and with tournaments moving online.

The League of Legends World Championship was the most live-viewed tournament in 2020, with 91.9 million hours watched between Twitch and YouTube. The most-watched league was League of Legends Champions Korea Summer, at 53.9 million hours on the same channels.

Esports Audience Growth Chart

Live gaming broadcasts in Spanish and Portuguese showed the biggest growth among audiences in 2020. Spanish language streams grew a whopping 369 percent to reach 1.4 billion hours watched, while Portuguese streams grew 189 percent to 1.1 billion hours. These two languages are now positioned as the most-watched on livestreaming platforms next to English.

While increased viewership is great news in terms of eyes on content, the lack of live events has negatively impacted revenue. Due to fewer real-world events, revenues from ticket and merchandise sales will not recover until 2022 and generate roughly $66.6 million until then.

Individual esports enthusiasts will generate approximately $4.63 each on average in 2021, a 2.8 percent increase from $4.40 in 2020. This figure is still lower than in 2019 when enthusiasts generated an average of $4.86 each. Newzoo expects this number to get back on track in 2022 once live events have resumed at a rate of $5.25 per enthusiast.

Global esports revenues will grow 14.5 percent to $1 billion in 2021, with over 75 percent of the market originating from media rights and sponsorship. China will generate the most revenue at $360.1 million, followed by North America and Western Europe with $243 million and $205.8 million, respectively.

2021 Esports Revenue Streams Chart

Photos courtesy of Riot Games and Newzoo Graphics