When you’re outside of an industry, you can sometimes miss huge trends that are shaping the way millions of people are spending their time and money. The media industry continuously frets that their businesses are on fire due to the internet and technology. But as the forest clears, something big is growing that will dominate online media. Video will represent 85% of internet traffic in 2019 and will be the medium of choice for future platforms. Mark Zuckerberg has stated that “video is a mega trend, almost as big as mobile.” Recently, Nicola Mendelsohn, head of Facebook Europe, mentioned that the platform will “probably be all video” in five years. They’re predicting the end of text on the internet, and the technologies Facebook pushes will tend to dominate the web over the next 5–10 years unless another platform emerges.
The leading edge of that trend, however, has not been coming from Facebook, but from gaming. Twitch.tv and YouTube Gaming are dominating live online video for gaming with millions of people broadcasting and stars earning millions of dollars. According to ESPN, gaming has more YouTube followers than every other category except music.
In this category on YouTube, PewDiePie dominates with over 45 million followers. He has done an incredible job building an audience that came to his site for gaming but stayed for the other entertainment provided.
In addition to monetizing their content through large audiences, gaming is turning its live competitions (eSports) into a huge industry. ESPN compared the biggest eSports events in history against major traditional sports events. The League of Legends Championship was second to only the Super Bowl in terms of audience size relative to the premier sporting event in the US (The World Cup final has a much larger audience than the Super Bowl at 1 billion viewers).
eSports is now a $500 million industry globally. In 2014, Deloitte reported that eSports generated $84 million in the United States, but it’s growing at an incredible 94% annually compounding growth rate with the potential to reach $1.2 billion in the US by 2018. Twitch reported that in the last 10 months, eSports represented 14–31% of its viewership hours each month — that’s a whopping 803.7 million minutes in the last 10 months! With 205 million people watching eSports globally and 28 million in the US with over 700 million gamers globally and 155 million in the US, revenue in this industry will grow.
Watching the growth of eSports and live PC game broadcasting will illuminate the future of a video-first web. The different monetization strategies of Twitch Channels and gaming studios are lighting a path forward for the media sites that survive the forest fire burning up their current business models.