Esports is now the second most-watched competitive activity among boys in the UK, after football

Esports is now the second most-watched competitive activity among boys in the UK, after football

Dominic Sacco
3 min read | 25 May 2018

Eports is now the second most popular sporting activity for boys to watch on screen – behind only football, and ahead of boxing, rugby and tennis – according to new UK research by Kids Insights.

The study of more than 5,000 youngsters found that one in five male respondents said they regularly tuned in to watch esports.

The research, which is part of Kids Insights’ quarterly Q1 report, also found that one in five boys – and one in ten girls – expect esports to be bigger than more traditional sports in the future.

Furthermore, UFC/Mixed Martial Arts become the fourth most watched sport on screen among teenagers.

Kids Insights’ lead future analyst Nick Richardson said: “The latest research in our Q1 report shows the rise of esports gathering some real momentum. And as the popularity for esports continues to grow, we are seeing brands adopt these new digital spaces by investing large sums into sponsorship and endorsements. In fact, many physical sports teams are beginning to get involved in the esports arena.

“The IOC officially recognised esports as a sport in November and this could pave the way for both physical and virtual competitions to exist alongside each other.

“The growing popularity of esports provides many exciting opportunities for brands who are willing to be brave and bold enough to not only understand young people’s behaviours but act on them.”

Livestreaming platform Twitch is now watched by 17% of 16-18-year olds, making the platform more popular than several more traditional platforms such as All 4, Sky Go, My5 and Now TV.

When it comes to live sports, over the last nine months, the numbers of young people watching has remained fairly constant, with half of all children in the UK not attending any events. Attendance is lowest in the youngest group of children, aged 4-6.

Attendance peaks in boys at age 13-15 and with girls aged 10-12, following a very similar pattern to the market for sports watched on screen.

Overall however, watching live sport is a very small part of the overall ecosystem, as children are more likely to have visited the park, cinema, leisure centre, zoo, bowling, museums and theme parks above live sporting events.

Football is the most popular sport amongst boys, with 42% saying they attend live games.

Kids Insights surveys 400 different kids, tweens and teens every week and more than 20,000 every year.

A sample version of Kids Insights’ Q1 report is available here:



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