How does the esports industry matchup with the NFL, NBA, and the MLB?

If you haven’t already heard of the esports industry, it’s time you start paying attention. Competitive video gaming started off as a hobby decades ago and is now worth billions.

The esports industry is expected to continue to grow on a global scale with thanks to fans all around the world. Credit: @alexhaney

The esports industry has grown enough to the point where its fan base and revenue are starting to rival traditional sports leagues like the NFL, NBA, and the MLB. Here’s how the esports industry matches up with major sports leagues:


When compared to the number of viewers for the NFL, the MLB, and the NBA, just the League of Legends tournament viewership alone comes in second place. Here are the rankings:

  1. NFL viewers: 124 million
  2. League of Legends viewers: 58 million
  3. MLB viewers: 38 million
  4. NBA viewers: 32 million
Esports viewership is currently second only to the NFL. Credit: @hencetheboom

When we talk about viewership for single events, live streams of big-time esports events are larger than the NFL’s Thursday Night Football’s opening games. Check out how Thursday Night Football live streams do when compared to the esports events listed below in order of the most to the least amount of viewers:

  1. 2018 E3 Fortnite Pro-Am Tournament: 700k
  2. Fortnite Battle Royale live-stream Ninja/Drake: 628k
  3. Overwatch League Opening Night: 408k
  4. Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime opening game: 372k
  5. Thursday Night Football on Twitter opening games: 243k

The growing esports audience is expected to exceed the fan base of every professional sports league except for the NFL by 2021. This means that the esports audience will be bigger than leagues like the MLB, NBA, NHL, and MLS. With bigger audiences comes greater revenue numbers.


Now that you know about the viewership, what about the revenue? For 2018, the esports industry brought in $897.2 million. The NBA generated $7.4 billion in revenue during the 2017-2018 season. The MLB recorded gross revenues of $10.3 billion in 2018. As some might have expected, the NFL led all with $15 billion in revenue for all of 2018.

This increased revenue in the esports industry is made possible thanks to a variety of reasons like live-streaming platforms such as Twitch. With tools like Twitch, professional gamers can share their gaming activities with their fans and engage with others in real-time. Live streaming platforms have also facilitated an increase in esports revenue because of sponsorships from major companies like Nike and Puma.

Platform like Twitch have made it easier for esports influencers to connect with their fans. Credit: @casparrubin

Another motivator for the increase in revenue is the size of prize pools for tournaments. The best professional gamers may be playing for cash prizes anywhere from $100k+ to prize pools in the millions. For example, the 2019 Fortnite World Cup had a prize pool of $30 million with the winner taking home $3 million. These cash prizes motivate the best esports athletes to perform and also drive interest in the esports community.

How can you take part in the esports industry?

As you can see, the esports industry is here to stay. It’s a growing industry that can hold its own against the giants of traditional sports like the NFL and the NBA. The esports industry is also an industry you can readily participate in in a variety of ways such as cheering on your favorite gamers on Twitch or competing against others. With the power of blockchain technology, Kronoverse is paving the way for the future of esports by weeding out the cheaters, increasing transparency, and creating more opportunities for gamers and developers to get paid. Join the conversation here!