Millions of esports enthusiasts overlap with traditional sports fans

Nearly half of Canadian esports fans follow the NBA, as well as the NHL.

The esports fanbase that has been growing over the past few years accelerated during the pandemic, providing new sponsorship options during the absence of traditional sports.

While the reach of esports is not yet on par with traditional sports, there is significant overlap between esports fans and those of popular team sports according to the Vivintel 2020 Sports and eSports Study.

There are an estimated 5.6 million esports fans in Canada. Two out of five of them also follow the NBA during its season. The overlap of 2.3 million fans offers opportunities for crossover promotions and engagement between the teams as well as for brands.

An example of how fan overlap can work is the NBA’s successful NBA 2K20 video game tournament broadcast by ESPN that featured 16 pro basketball players. These types of events influence fan crossover and connect with fans, particularly younger generations.

This trend continues across all sports. Of Canada’s 17.8 million NHL fans, the overlap with esports is 2.8 million – and the NHL, like the NBA, has an interest in the rise of esports as well. EA Sports’ NHL 20 was another hot commodity for gamers this year, while some NHL players like Toronto’s Zach Hyman and Mitch Marner have been featured in celebrity esports tournaments (the latter recently became part of Overactive Media’s ownership group).

The CFL’s 10.16 million fans include 1.8 million esports fans. The MLB, with 10.4 million fans, has an overlap of 1.9 million fans with esports. Nascar has 4.3 million Canadian fans, 1.1 million also follow esports.