How many people watch gaming content on the internet? A lot, and maybe more than the number who watch more "traditional" types of entertainment. We've heard comparisons between the audiences of esports and regular sports, and last week, SuperData Reasearch had some numbers to fling at people regarding alternate entertainment choices.
SuperData's new report, titled "Gaming Video Content & The New Essential Audience," is now available on the company's website. It costs $2,499, which is even more than it costs to enjoy ArcheAge, so we'll go with the information presented on the website -- especially the big headline that's been bandied around to try and get clicks and sales. That headline is:
"More people watch GVC [gaming video content] than HBO, Netflix, ESPN and Hulu combined."
While my first thought was to be skeptical about the math, the charts that accompany this assertion seem to back up this claim. It claims 517 million YouTube viewers (for VGC) and 185M Twitch viewers. While these two numbers would add up to 702M, there is certainly some overlap between these two audiences, and the total in the higher chart states 665M total VGC viewers. So that part of things checks out.
Now, if you combine the HBO/Netflix/ESPN/Hulu numbers -- and I'll assume that SuperData means 12 million Hulu subscribers instead of just 12 -- they add up to 329M. Again, there are probably some overlaps, meaning the number of unique people holding accounts with these four services is probably lower.
But! Multiple people probably use each individual subscription. If you live in a household of four people, all four might use your single HBO or Netflix subscription or watch ESPN, whereas everyone probably has their own YouTube or Twitch account. So does 329 million minus the number of duplicates times the number of people using each subscription come to less than 665 million? Seems plausible.
If I was to quibble about any part of this assertion, it would be in wondering about the total hours that these hundreds of millions of people spend watching this content. Sure, there are a lot of people -- myself included -- who watch hours and hours of VGC per day, but there are probably just as many, if not more, who might tune into Twitch once a month or even less often. Is the count simply the number of accounts created -- many of which might be idle, having not been used for years? Compare that to subscription-based services like HBO, which are almost certainly in regular use by every one of their buyers.
(And I'd also give a "meh" about lumping Hulu and its comparatively tiny subscriber base in there to make it seem more impressive -- especially if it really does have just 12 subscribers, which I could almost believe.)
Headline #2 also presents an interesting number:
"Ads and direct consumer spending will push GVC earnings to $4.6B this year."
This is the reason SuperData wants you to buy its report. Or, more specifically, why it wants businesses with $2,499 to spare to buy it. The message is, "Companies that do not build relationships with these viewers now risk losing the next generation of high-spending consumers."
I feel like YouTube is pretty well-represented, ad-wise; it's Twitch where I keep getting the same three ads every time I tune into a stream. But there are probably some advertisers who feel like Twitch and YouTube are still just "fads" that will die out. Even if that's the case (and I don't think it is), they're big enough now to be worth advertisers' time. Or, as the report puts it, "it’s an audience that will be ignored by brands and advertisers only to their detriment."
One last statistic: If you divide that dollar value by the number of viewers, that means that each person who watches VGC generates $6.92 in revenue. That counts both ad revenue and direct revenue (such as donations or subscriptions) combined.
All in all, there are a lot of data to crunch. What conclusions can you draw?
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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