Is esports a real sport? As per YouGov’s 17-market survey, 65% respondents don’t think so
May 13th, 2024, Lesley Simeon

Is esports a real sport? As per YouGov’s 17-market survey, 65% respondents don’t think so

Whether an activity does or doesn’t qualify as a sport, in the traditional sense, can have far-reaching consequences - from perception and recognition, to funding and exclusion from major sport tournaments. Esports is one of the activities at at the centre of this tug-for-war for the ‘sport’ label.

A recent YouGov survey asked consumers across 17 international markets whether they view esports (playing video games competitively) as a real sport. YouGov Surveys: Serviced data reveals that just one in five (20%) respondents across all markets view it as a real sport. A larger proportion of them (65%) disagree, while 16% are not sure.

Men are more likely than women (24% vs. 15%) to see esports as a real sport, the data shows. As for proportions of men and women who don’t see esports as real sports aren’t vastly different (63% of men and 66% of women).

As for views among different age groups, data from YouGov Surveys: Serviced reveals that younger consumers are more likely than older ones to view esports as a real sport.

For instance, 36% of 18-to-24-year-olds are most likely to see esports as a real sport, while the oldest age group surveyed (55+ year olds) are least likely to agree (7%).

However, nearly half of all consumers (49%) in our youngest age cohort (18-to-24-year-olds) do not view esports as a real sport. A majority of 55+ year olds across markets (77%) don’t see esports as a real sport as well.

Yes, I view esports as a real sport

All the Asian markets we survey feature in the top five spots of our list of those who are most likely to agree they consider esports as a real sport. Respondents in the UAE (38%) lead and in the UAE, nearly half (48%) of all 18-to-24-year-olds view esports as a real sport. Earlier this year, the UAE announced it plans to build an esports island, that will, enable hosting global and regional tournaments. Respondents in the UAE are also the most likely across markets to have a positive view of people working in the video gaming industry, as per another YouGov poll.

UAE is followed by Indonesia (35%), India (34%) and Hong Kong (27%) and Singapore (25%).

As for Europe, Danes are the most likely (24%) to agree with the statement.

Equal proportions of Brits (11%), Americans (11%) and Canadians (11%), but they are also the least likely across all market to say they see esports as a real sport.

No, I do not view esports as a real sport

Britons account for the largest proportion of those across all markets surveyed (75%) to say they do not see esports as a real sport. Germans (73%), Canadians (72%) and Americans (71%) follow Britons.

Indians and Indonesians (both at 51%) and UAE at 50% are the least likely across markets to say they don’t see esports as a real sport.

As for those who say they don’t know if esports is a real sport for them or not, Poles (21%) and Italians (21%) lead.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 500 and 2002 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in February 2024. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

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