With millions of Americans quarantined at home due to efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, many have turned to their screens for entertainment. And though TV viewing has risen, and streaming services are enjoying solid gains, gaming has exploded to become the new social currency and a cultural force.
The onset of online multiplayer games, online tournaments, livestreaming and community platforms has turned gaming into a social activity. According to Verizon, U.S. video game usage during peak hours has gone up 75% since the quarantine first went into effect. Additionally, more time is spent watching gaming videos and streams on YouTube or Twitch than HBO, Netflix, ESPN and Hulu combined.
To put the opportunity into perspective, gaming is now a $139 billion a year business, making it bigger than the NFL, NBA, MLB and the NHL combined. With the major pro leagues, March Madness and the Summer Olympics all canceled or delayed, esports has emerged as the only game in town. Sports networks are pivoting to broadcasting esports tournaments and seeing big results.
Nike recently sponsored League of Legends teams in China, while Louis Vuitton created an on-brand travel case for the League of Legends World Championship trophy. As marketers adapt to the new reality and look to shift channel investments, gaming is one of the first channels they should consider.