35 per cent of UK adults are aware of esports, but only seven per cent of them actually watch esports, according to a new report from YouGov. Of those who watch, the majority do so online (72 per cent).
Meanwhile, eight per cent of UK adults are interested in watching esports, and seven per cent of those who have watched have made bets on esports. Nearly 3 in 5 people who have watched esports are interested in watching again.
Unsurprisingly, awareness was highest among the 18-24 age group, falling to 59 per cent in 25-34 year-olds. 48 per cent of men were aware of esports compared to just 23 per cent of women. Of those who watch, however, the gender divide is much less pronounced, with 21 per cent of men over 17 per cent women. Strangely, YouGov only states that 23 per cent of men watch esports at least monthly, with no equivalent figure provided for women.
However, the UK's numbers lag behind other countries, such as Germany, the US, Australia, Singapore and China, both in terms of those who watch esports and those interested in watching, with the UK's interested levels less than half those of Germany. YouGov suggests this shows a need to both convert more esports-aware adults into watchers, and then retain them over the long-term.
"While esports is still very much a minority pursuit in the UK, there is a sizeable chunk of the population that industry can use as a base from which to grow," the report stated. "A solid proportion of existing spectators are reasonably enthusiastic about watching again and the scale of viewership in countries like China and the US show how it could develop in this country in the coming years, if certain barriers can be broken down.
"The UK lags behind all other markets covered in this study in all areas of awareness, watched before and interest in watching, while China leads the pack. Awareness and viewership in similar markets, like Germany and the US, show that there is room for similar growth in the UK.
"Esports does face some barriers. There's a perception that eSports doesn't deserve the same recognition as traditional sports. However, appreciation is higher among those who have watched esports, so there is an opportunity to improve perceptions if the industry is able to lure more people into watching."