September 21st, 2020 – IIDEA, the association representing the video games industry in Italy, unveiled today during Round One the new Italian Esports Report, realized in collaboration with Nielsen. According to the research, in our country 466 thousand people (+33% compared to the previous edition of the report) follow esports events every day (avid fans), and this catchment area expands to about 1,400,000 people (+20%) if you also consider those who claim to follow esports events several times a week (fanbase). At a time when the issue of acceptance of the other is an hot topic, it is important to underline that according to 66% of respondents, esports support the development of an open and inclusive environment, regardless of gender, age, ability, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
“The data collected in this new edition of the Italian Esports Report confirm the constant growth of the phenomenon in our country. If we think that in the first survey there were about a million fans, in just two years more than four hundred thousand people have started to follow with passion this form of entertainment. Esports also received further boost to growth as a mass phenomenon thanks to the attention dedicated to it during the first 6 months of 2020 by part of more generalist media and television channels that in the past were oriented only to the transmission of more traditional sporting events”, declared Marco Saletta, IIDEA Chairman. “In recent years we have worked to promote a sector stabilization and growth, including a professional one. This year we begin to reap the benefits and lay new foundations, also thanks to the first edition of Round One, the international business event dedicated to esports, during which publishers, tournament organizers and teams had the opportunity to meet and explore many topics of interest with international guests”.
Who are the esports fans in Italy?
This is a mainly male audience (58%), although the number of women is growing, from 38% last year to 42% of the last survey, with a medium-high level of education and an average age of 29 years. The presence of fans in the southern regions and islands is considerable (36%).
22% of those who follow esports have started doing so in the last year, 32% for more than twelve months. On average, fans devote 6.5 hours a week to esports events, compared to 5 hours of the previous analysis (+35%). The number of fans who spend over five hours a week watching esports events also increased by 18% compared to the 2019 survey. Besides esports, music and movies are the main interests of esports fans.
Why esports fans engage with esports? 89% of the respondents declare to do that for entertainment or to spend some time, 69% would like to improve its personal skills following professional players performances, 40% to watch a game before buying it or to know more about the evolution of gaming and understand its trends. According to the Italian fanbase, esports help to learn english (73%), promote a spirit of healthy competition (73%), contribute to relational development and team building (71%) and help discover new passions in the field of history, art and science (60%).
Which are the most popular video games and platforms?
Esports fans follow on average more than two genre of esports (2.6, +8% compared to the previous analysis). Sports games and shooters are the most popular video game genres. Battle Royale and MOBA follow. The most used devices to watch esports are Personal Computer (62%) and Smartphones (47%), followed by Smart TV apps, including Youtube (31%). Esports fans usually use two screens simultaneously to play and watch other content, whether it is to follow the flow of comments on chats and forums related to the event (33%), to check social networks (31%) or listen to music (25%).
But on which platforms do esports fans play? It depends on the type of game: if for sports titles (65%) and shooters (63%) excel consoles, roles are reversed in MOBA (39% PC vs. 32% consoles) and MMO (40% vs 25%). The most used online services are Playstation Plus (32%), Twitch Prime (29%) and Nintendo Online (21%). 31% of the fanbase also said they are interested in subscribing to TV services or streaming channels with packages that cover exclusively news and events related to esports.
Where and when people talk about esports?
From the analysis, the profile of the user talking about esports on social media is predominantly male (62% vs 38%), with a higher concentration in the segments 18-24 years and 25-34 years. In addition, most of the content tracked by analyzing blogs, forums, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Reddit, comes from Lombardy (28%), which detaches Emilia-Romagna (13%), Lazio and Campania (9%) at the top of the ranking.
The Italian esports fan is interested in technology and associated products, has a strong inclination towards the world of comic and cinecomic, follows pages with comic, self-deprecating or satirical theme. He follows artists such as Nitro, Shade, Salmo, Marracash, Club Dogo. The gaming video titles (66%) are the topic that generated the highest volume of discussion in the period under review; discussions concerning esports leagues (15%) have as main theme games or players and participating teams, which in turn generate 18% of online discussions.
COVID-19 impact on esports fans habits
In such a particular year, one could not but analyze the impact of the COVID-19 on the habits of esports fans: lockdown has led avid fans to devote more time to video games for PC (48%) and consoles (42%). The number of moments dedicated to TV and movies in streaming or on-demand has grown (+45%), while in 44% of cases time spent watching online esports has increased. During the lockdown there was an increase in spending on TV or streaming movies or on-demand (15%), video game downloads (15%) and in-game content (11%). In general, 38% of avid fans watched esports instead of traditional sports, 35% watched esports along with friends and family and 29% discussed the results of esports events with friends or family