Esports is as big as American football for young Americans, according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post.
40% of 14 to 21-year-olds taking part in the poll claimed to be football fans; with 38% counting themselves as fans of esports.
“The popularity of esports and online gaming among American teens and young adults as both a recreational activity that you participate in or can also watch reveals a shifting landscape for what constitutes a sport in American life,” said Professor Joshua Dyck, Co-Director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion – the body that helped carry out the poll.
“It is absolutely telling that the fan base for esports is just as large as the fan base for professional football among Americans ages 14 to 21. The reasons teens and young adults give for participating in esports/online gaming mirror many of those given in our survey of adults 18 and older about why they watch live sports.”
The availability of online gaming may speak for its popularity among young Americans. 59% of teens and young adults in that age group said they have either participated in a video game competition or played an online video game with multiple players in the last 12 months, and a similar 58% have watched people playing games online on platforms such as YouTube and Amazon.com-owned Twitch.
The popularity of esports is even higher among young men: 89% of young males said they have either played online video games, participated in a competition and/or watched others playing games online in the last year. Only about one in 10 males in that age group have had no interaction with online gaming in the last 12 months.
Among females in that age group, 56% have either played or watched a video game over the same time-frame. By comparison, only 18% of American adults 18 and older reported having played an online video game with multiple players or participating in a video game competition in the preceding 12 months, and just 16% reported watching video gaming online via Twitch, YouTube or other platforms.