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Among 14-21 Year Olds, eSports Are About As Popular To Watch As Football

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Among 14-21 Year Olds, eSports Are About As Popular To Watch As Football

The times, they are a changing.

In partnership with the Washington Post, the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion conducted two surveys on American attitudes about sports and found that young Americans find themselves enjoying eSports as much as American Football.

For those age 14 to 21, e-sports are about as big as football, according to results of a UMass Lowell-Washington Post poll released today. Forty percent of that age group said they are football fans while 38 percent count themselves among fans of e-sports. 

“The popularity of e-sports and online gaming among American teens and young adults as both a recreational activity that you participate in or can also watch reveals a shifting landscape for what constitutes a sport in American life. It is absolutely telling that the fan base for e-sports is just as large as the fan base for professional football among Americans ages 14 to 21,” said Prof. Joshua Dyck, co-director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion, who wrote and analyzed the poll with The Post. “The reasons teens and young adults give for participating in e-sports/online gaming mirror many of those given in our survey of adults 18 and older about why they watch live sports.”

The popularity of e-sports is even higher among young men: 89 percent of male teens and young adults said they have either played online video games, participated in a competition and/or watched others playing games online in the last year. Only about one in 10 males in that age group have had no interaction with online gaming in the last 12 months. Among females in that age group, 56 percent have either played or watched a video game over the same timeframe. By comparison, only 18 percent of American adults 18 and older reported having played an online video game with multiple players or participating in a video game competition in the preceding 12 months and just 16 percent reported watching video gaming online via Twitch, YouTube or other platforms.

Asked whether they would rather spend a free hour of time watching a live e-sports competition or watching a live sporting event, such as football or the Olympics, the live sporting event won, but the younger the respondent, the more likely they were to choose e-sports. Seventy-eight percent of all adults who play or watch video games preferred the live sporting event to 15 percent for e-sports. But among teens and young adults, 35 percent said they would prefer watching a live e-sports event and that option was even more popular (41 percent) with 14- to 17-year-olds.

eSports, the Future

Practically speaking, this is the type of data gaming companies are seeing as well — and why we are seeing some of the more traditional single player modes like Franchise mode being skipped over on the feature improvements depth chart some years in lieu of creating more robust online/esport oriented gaming options within sports games. That trend likely isn’t going to reverse and may intensify as we move forward, as it seems the data points towards the next generation of gamers beginning to arise within the marketplace loving the online competition and watching others compete as well.

 

 

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  1. I'm a big fan of eSports, but when I talk about eSports I do not think of sports games.
    I'm sure when this study was conducted they were looking at csgo/LoL/Dota which attract millions of viewers for a single match during their top tournaments.  
    When it comes to actual sports vs their eSports (Madden to NFL)  counterpart I don't think it is even remotely close.  I think eSports will thrive in other genres but sports it will fall behind.  If will always be more exciting to watch the real thing. 
    Not a surprise. My 8 year old doesn't even watch TV anymore. He watches DanTDM and Jelly and other YouTubers playing games. He's not into sports. But if and when he does get into them I know how he's going to consume it. Its where we are now. I personally don't see anything wrong with it.
    Yeah but I don't think sports games will be popular e-sports.  E-sports in non-sport games are popular cause it's the only way to watch that game being played. I don't see why people who like watching basketball would flock to watching video game basketball when watching real basketball is a better option. 
    The pattern I see: NBA will overtake the NFL, and then eventually, eSports will overtake both. Soccer/football will be king for a very long time, but eSports will be in second. It has the global, cultural appeal like soccer has.
    Eh, 5 year-old me would have rather watched Blues Clues than football, 12 year-old me would have rather been watching Pokemon than football, 16 year-old me would have rather been watching Youtubers / playing video games than football, and here I am, watching multiple games each Sunday during the season, not caring for e-sports whatsoever.  I don't see today's kids watching esports into their 40s.  We grow out of our interests in a lot of things, and I think esports is just another instance of that.  It's never going to "take over" any real sport,.
    creator2700
    Eh, 5 year-old me would have rather watched Blues Clues than football, 12 year-old me would have rather been watching Pokemon than football, 16 year-old me would have rather been watching Youtubers / playing video games than football, and here I am, watching multiple games each Sunday during the season, not caring for e-sports whatsoever.* I don't see today's kids watching esports into their 40s.* We grow out of our interests in a lot of things, and I think esports is just another instance of that.* It's never going to "take over" any real sport,.

    I hope you are right. I worry about our sporting options in the future. I seem to be far behind the curve, in that I am interested in football, baseball and hockey - two sports declining in popularity and one that never had it. While I do not understand the fun in watching eSports (or in watching any people play videogames), I also do not see the fun in watching golf, bowling, tennis, soccer, etc.
    I don't follow e-sports so I don't know for sure but it seems like there aren't seasons like you see in traditional sports (if I am wrong please correct me). Every time I hear of an e-sports event it's some sort of tournament or championship. I wonder if that is a big part of the appeal. With other sports you need to follow a team through an entire season, which takes months, just to get to the playoffs when games really matter and things get exciting. With esports it seems like every match or event is important.
    The other aspect is that most esports games are fast paced, especially compared to traditional sports. Most sporting events (football, basketball, hockey, soccer, etc) are 2+ hour affairs for just one game. Dont think there are many events at esports that take 2 hours for one match. Plus the actual games themselves are usually fast paced and full of action. Where as most sports can be slow or boring at times.
    For these reasons I can see why 14-21 year olds might prefer E-sports over real sports.
    Nothing gets my "getoff my lawn" going more than "e-sports" I have played and
    coached "real" sports for over 40 years. I love playing video games,
    but the idea of watching other people play video games is beyond my
    comprehension. Having said that, I do know from watching my own kids that this
    is very real. My oldest (20) will watch sports with me on TV. My youngest (12)
    could care less about watching a game on TV (and he plays football, basketball,
    baseball and soccer) but he only knows like 10 pro athletes (at his age I knew
    ALL of them) but when overwatch TV started he watched for days and told me
    endless stories about the "players" that I had to pretend to listen
    to. No doubt there is a future in this, but it really makes no sense to me. 
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