eSports as popular as American Football with Gen Z

59 per cent of teens and young adults have either participated in a video game competition or played an online video game with multiple players in the last 12 months
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eSports is almost as popular as American Football with young Americans according to new research from the Washington Post and UMass-Lowell.

The research found 38 per cent of respondents aged 14-21 said they were fans of eSports, compared to American Football's 40 per cent.

The survey also found that 59 per cent of teens and young adults said they have either competed in a video game competition or played an online video game with multiple players in the last 12 months. In the same group, 58 per cent said they have watched people play games on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.

eSports is most popular with young men, 89 per cent said they have either played online video games, participated in a competition and/or watched others playing games online in the last year. Among females in the same age group, 56 per cent have either played or watched a video game over the same timeframe. 

By comparison, only 18 per cent 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 per cent reported watching video gaming online via Twitch, YouTube or other platforms.

Asked whether they would rather spend a free hour of time watching a live eSports competition or a live sporting event, the live event proved more popular, as 78 per cent of respondents who play or watch video games chose live sports. But among teens and young adults, 35 per cent said they would prefer watching a live eSports event and that option was even more popular (41 per cent) with 14- to 17-year-olds

"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 UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion.

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."

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