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India is Embracing E-Sports & so Should Brands The sheer magnitude of viewership of E-Sports is astoundingly three times of the NBA and double of the IPL viewership numbers

By Mujahid Rupani

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There's no one as busy as the millennials. Born on the cusp of a world wrapped in technology, they straddle their lives between numerous tabs on their digital screens. The ones born towards the turn of the century, live in a world of Internet and social media. With the world accessible from their mobile phone screen, they now do work emails, videos for entertainment, college projects and updating social media – all at the same time.

Chew on some of these numbers to get to the tip of the iceberg:

  • By 2020, India is set to have over 400 million smartphone users. Soon, we will have more smartphone users than the USA

  • An average mobile internet user spends a whopping 200 minutes a day on surfing websites and apps

  • Google and Facebook, combined, comprise 85per cent of all media spends in 2017

  • In the US, almost 80per cent millennials count on ads for information on products, and over half of them don't think ads are a nuisance

When brands want to reach out to the new age consumer who is always surrounded by noise, the communication that used to work 15 years, or even 5 years ago, fall short of reaching their ears. The millennials aren't in grocery stores or reading hoardings to make purchase decisions. Spending millions on traditional media is perhaps not the wisest of decisions. It's obvious then, advertisers must now go where the millennials are. So where are they?

  • Social Media: Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram

  • Apps like Tinder, Buzzfeed, Spotify

  • Online communities where they meet like-minded and people from a similar age group

The last bit is interesting, and the landscape for that has changed dramatically in the past 5 years. One of the fastest growing interest areas for younger millennials, aged between 15-25 years, has been e-sports. A massive community with huge money and cult following, e-sports and gaming enjoy a global audience of over 385 million millennials. And almost half of these are below 25 years of age. These are stunning numbers, and if your brand wants to talk to them, it's a sector you simply cannot ignore. Sample these viewership numbers, to know how big the sector it.


The 2017 NBA Finals 24.5 million

IPL 10 (2017) Finals 39.4 million

League of Legends World Championship Finals 75.5 million

The sheer magnitude of this is astounding. Three times of the NBA and double of the IPL viewership numbers. A silent revolution is brewing, and brands are unaware! If advertisers reach out to just the e-sports platforms, they potentially talk to 76 million people with high purchasing power, profoundly inclined towards technology, extremely loyal to brands and readily influenced by relevant, relatable marketing campaigns. It's the reason that global giants have been pumping in big money into e-sports and gaming advertising. Coca Cola, Asus, Logitech, BenQ, Visa, Mercedes, Flipkart, Snickers, Samsung, Red Bull, Microsoft and Mountain Dew have all gained big by sponsoring esports events. Notice how many of these are brands that have kept up with the times, always remaining relevant and building a loyal following over decades?

Advertising on specialised platforms such as e-sports and gaming come with distinct advantages:

  • Catch "em Young: The younger you convert a customer, the more likely he/she is to stick around with you. Winning them away from a competitor at a later stage is far costlier.

  • Talk to your Exact TG: No more talking to 100 adults to reach out to 5 millennials. Get to them. Straight away.

  • Gaming Audience Responds Well to: advertising, has higher spending power and counts heavily on online influencers to make purchase decisions.

As emerging technologies become a reality in India, the gap in numbers with the global average is set to shrink faster than we anticipate. India, currently having a captive e-sports audience of over 30 million, is a part of the largest e-sports segment in the world, which is South East Asia (SEA). With an impressive global standing of 17 and a current market size of $818 million that's set to cross $1.5 billion by 2022, e-sports and gaming are tough to ignore for advertisers. Being a young market, there are several advantages of moving quickly, like capitalising on the massive global popularity, having the first mover advantage over your competitor and all the frills of positioning yourself as a young, cool brand that is present where it matters.

India has a handful of promising teams that are competing very well in the global e-sports and gaming leagues. As they gain popularity, like they already are, brands that ride the wave are set to see big returns. e-sports tournaments organised by leading Indian companies are set to have an estimated 120 million online gamers. Brands like PayTM, Red Bull, Reliance, Sony and Flipkart are already strongly backing these leagues. It's time to rethink your marketing and advertising spends. Talk to the young ones in a language they understand. And get to them, before your competitors do!

Mujahid Rupani

Co-founder & C.E.O - Cobx Gaming

CobX is one of the biggest organizers of  Esports tournament in India. The company has a total 10 million USD investment plan over 3 years span of time. Most eSports companies in India have focused only on making their leagues which are based on invited players and are closed in nature. Cobx tournament is an open format inviting  all Indian nationals E-sports players. Besides this they are also focused on bringing Prime International tournaments to India.

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