Could Streaming be a viable earner for 16 – 24 year olds?

The Esports sector contributed £111.5m to the UK GDP in 2019. Could streaming and esports inject new life into the stumbling UK economy?

“The Value of Esports in the UK” report, undertaken by Olsberg SPI with Nordicity and commissioned by UK games industry body Ukie, presented their findings last week. The UK esports sector contributed around £111.5m to UK GDP in 2019 according to the findings published in the report.

The report broke down their findings and presented some very interesting data.  Besides the total added to the UK GDP, the headline findings of the report are as follows,

  • The UK esports sector has grown at an annual average rate of 8.5% between 2016 and 2019
  • The sector supported over 1,200 jobs in 2019 (It is unclear at this point if the total jobs also includes the work of unpaid volunteers)
  • The UK esports sector represents just under 8% of the global market.
  • A major global esports event could generate 238 full-time equivalents (FTEs) of employment and £12 million in GVA for the UK economy.

The CEO of Ukie, Dr Jo Twist OBE said about the report, “Esports is global sector at the intersection of technology, creativity, broadcast and entertainment – all areas of real national strength for the UK. This report shows us that the UK has a strong and growing esports industry, but that there is more to do to capture the full potential of this exciting, high-growth sector.”

Esports and the economy

One of the hardest hit groups in the pandemic has been young people. In the past three months there have been 156,000 newly unemployed 16-24-year-olds according to the Office for National Statistics. Young people tend to work in more transient types of employment; restaurants, tourism, and hotels. These industries, and the jobs they provide are declining during the pandemic.

The furlough scheme in the UK is being wound down, we will start to see even more job losses across the country. People, especially young people, are looking for new and different ways to make money and if it means they can work from home, all the better. Esports could become a viable job for the newly unemployed workforce, not just taking part professionally, but in the ever-growing industry that is sprouting up around the teams and tournaments.

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Streaming

Outside of esports, which tend to follow a similar structure to regular professional sports(Teams on contracts, organisations with salaried employees, and people employed to work at tournaments), there are other ways to make money playing video games for a large audience.

Streaming video games on platforms like Twitch, Facebook Gaming, and YouTube Gaming could be a viable way to make a portion, if not all of someone’s yearly salary. Check out this interesting video posted by popular Twitch streamer Disguised Toast in 2018 about how popular streamers make their money.

In it he describes the four major ways streamers can make money online; Donations, subscriptions, ads, and sponsorships. Keep in mind that the numbers will vary wildly between different streamers. Huge celebrities like Ninja can make millions every year but for the average streamer it will be far less.

There is not a lot of data available on how streamers income affects the UK GDP, but the UK does make up a sizeable portion of the Twitch ecosystem. The UK makes up an average of 5% the average of 3.1 billion hours viewed per quarter.

Recommendations

Don’t be mistaken, this article is not recommending that you quit your job, buy a high-end gaming PC and dedicate the rest of your life to playing games professionally. Instead, we are looking at the future of employment, as these platforms and organisations mature and grow, we will see an already vibrant community expand to support far more people than it does today.

As for the here and now, if you have the skills and the technology, part-time streaming to supplement your income does not seem like a bad idea. Who knows? You might make it big.

As we wrote earlier, these new jobs are not just for personalities and pro-players, the sector growing will create jobs in other areas, but it needs to grow before that can happen.

The report published by Ukie outlined eight steps to boost the growth of the esports sector in the UK.

  1. Regular Engagement: Partnership between Government and industry is core to growing any sector. Ukie recommends that some form of regular engagement is established between the industry and DCMS to advise on growth.
  2. Promoting the UK’s esports industry: The GREAT campaign promotes the best of British. Ukie believes that if the Government is serious about making esports an area of national strength then it should establish an ‘EsportsIsGREAT’ strand of the GREAT campaign.
  3. Building on British expertise: Ukie recommends that the Government work with the industry to support the export of esports products, such as content for linear broadcast, that builds on the best of British talent and looks at ways to incentivise more esports production and activity in the UK.
  4. Funding technological innovation: The Government has taken a strong first step by funding the Weavr Consortium, an esports demonstrator, as part of the ‘Industrial Strategy’s Audience of the Future’ challenge. Ukie believes that esports can serve as a test bed for technology with applications across other sectors and recommends the Government back this with a small and focused Esports Technology Challenge Fund.
  5. Securing international events: The UK already plays host to large esports events such as ESL One Birmingham and the FACEIT Major, but Ukie believes more could be done. Ukie recommends that the Government work with industry to offer attractive packages to tournament organisers to bring their events, as well as the fans and associated economic benefits, to the UK.
  6. Becoming a customer: The esports audience is young and highly engaged. As the Government looks to get crucial messages to this group, it should work with esports businesses to buy advertising space and run campaigns.
  7. Providing visa clarity: The immigration system is not always clear as to how esports players and talent should apply for entry and visas. Ukie does not advocate for any wholesale changes to our immigration system, but rather the development and issuance of clear guidance in partnership with industry.
  8. Maintaining regulatory stability: The UK must maintain a stable regulatory environment for businesses. As the UK forges its new place in the world, outside of the EU, we must ensure we are attractive to businesses and investors. Ongoing and clear engagement from the Government with the video games and esports industry will be crucial here.
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