India, for a long time, has been perceived as a technological hub for the future. Thus, understanding what can be done with livestreaming comes from consciously observing how it is being used presently, and how its innate qualities can be harnessed to solve existing problems in the industry.
You can be a parent, a student, or a working professional, but the one thread that ties us all is the need for self-entertainment. In times like COVID, self-entertainment and virtual socialisation have found an ally in the streaming of online gaming.
With a surge in its viewership numbers in India, livestreaming is setting new milestones in the content creation space every other day. Today, instead of OTT platforms like Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar and SonyLiv, people are turning to live gaming as the more preferred option for entertainment.
According to a recent survey, India’s livestreaming gaming industry is valued at around US$35-50 million, while experts suggest that it might rise to US$300 million in the next three years. Moreover, the global livestreaming industry is valued at US$10 billion, which is predicted to reach the US$13 billion figure by the end of the year with over 19 million content creators.
However, before looking at the livestreaming market, we must consider the overall gaming industry first, which has grown substantially in the past couple of years. Much of this growth can be put down to the emergence of many popular multiplayer games like PUBG mobile, Genera Free Fire and Fortnite.
Today in India, more than 400 million people actively play online games, with more than 225 million people preferring first-person shooters (FPS). The number of people currently consuming gaming content through game streaming and gaming videos in India is estimated to be somewhere between 100 million and 125 million.
From conventional mainstream sports to esports gaming and online entertainment, livestreaming has been successfully used in India to bridge the gap between traditional forms of sports and new innovative technologies.
In terms of revenue, the overall gaming market is expected to generate US$3 billion by 2023, while game streaming is expected to generate US$300 million alone.
Moreover, the success of the gaming industry in India hinges on two major trends: majority of Indians playing online games, and their everlasting love for content consumption. Game streaming is an intersection of these two trends and will emerge as a major entertainment genre in the coming years.
Streaming live sports or esports in India helps connect with the eager fans who want to engage but might not have the resources available to them to go in-person or acquire the requisite system. Despite initial protests by broadcasters that livestreaming could jeopardise the integrity of the sports, it has in fact opened up the market more, giving it more spending power moving forward.
For instance, the livestream viewership of the Indian Premier League has grown steadily over the last five to six years. Disney+ Hotstar had 41 million viewers during the 2015 season, and by 2020 that number almost quadrupled to 158 million viewers. The growing number shows that livestreaming is making the sport more accessible to the masses.
Similarly, in 2018, livestreaming unlocked India’s esports industry. 2018 saw the launch of India’s first esports league – U Cypher. It was the first-ever esports league in India and was set up based on high demand. The league featured six teams of veterans playing popular games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, DOTA 2, Tekken 7 and Cricket 17 across 35 episodes which was broadcast on MTV India.
Being the first of its kind, U Cypher helped add to the growing number of Indian gamers who had large audiences on Twitch and other professional livestreaming platforms. While livestreaming fed the appetite of millions of people who love to watch others play, platforming esports onto mainstream channels like MTV highlighted the power of this emerging industry and what could be accomplished with livestreaming.
India, for a long time, has been perceived as a technological hub for the future. Thus, understanding what can be done with livestreaming in the future comes from consciously observing how it is being used presently, and how its innate qualities can be harnessed to solve existing problems in the industry. That’s why, harnessing livestreaming not only pushes India closer to these claims, but also shows how they can be realised to their full potential.