The global esports fan base is as complex and nuanced as long-established traditional sports.  The recently-formed Nielsen Esports business vertical combined the expertise from our sports and games sectors to produce the first-of-its-kind, in-depth study into esports fan behaviors that will impact the growth and brand investments in the industry.

This study of esports fans in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany provides a deep dive into the esports audience. How do people become esports fans? How often do fans engage with esports? What media esports fans consume? How do they view traditional sports? What their attitudes toward sponsorship and brand involvement in esports?



China is a global sports powerhouse, with a rising domestic sports market and the eyes of the international sports industry trained upon it and its 1.37 billion citizens. Domestic leagues such as the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and Chinese Super League are professionalizing, major events like the 2022 Winter Olympics are being successfully bid for, and international teams, leagues and events are busy laying foundations in the country.

Much of this stirring interest in sport stems from the Chinese government’s plan to build a CNY5 trillion (US$813 billion) sports industry by 2025, a strategy covering everything from improved fitness to encouraging foreign investment, grassroots sport to elite performance.

Football, for example, is now part of the school system in the country, and as the report shows, the push towards more active lifestyles is beginning to have a positive impact. A host of new facilities and initiatives are underway to help increase participants and create fans.

This whitepaper offers a mere snapshot of the current Chinese sporting fanscape and landscape. It underlines that, even in a market where such huge opportunities for growth beckon, the fundamentals are still vital: accurate measurement of the value being created through sponsorship and investment by brands, in all its forms, is essential, as is a forensic understanding of the market—its rising middle class, the way the country is structured and the wide divergence between its cities.




Politically, socially and technologically, the world is in the midst of one of the most disruptive periods in living memory—this disruption is affecting where investment in sports is coming from, how sports content is created and distributed, and changing the dynamics of relationships between rights holders, sponsors and fans.
With global sponsorship spend forecast to reach over $62 billion in 2017 and global media rights spend expected to hit $45 billion, the top-line metrics remain positive. But this is a period of rapid change for sports—from China’s remarkable investments at home and abroad to new technologies such as virtual reality, the explosion in direct-to-consumer content to shifts in audience habits and consumption.
Nielsen Sports has analyzed the changes happening across the worlds of sports, media and technology by listening to the industry, examining the relevant data and carefully considering the impact of these changes. With the help of our experts around the world, this whitepaper outlines what we regard as the 10 major commercial trends in sports.



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