Study says women make up 30 percent of esports viewership

A six-percent increase over a two-year period shows promise, while data points to a female focus on casual, mobile gaming. 

Photo by Robert Paul via Blizzard Entertainment

Nearly a third of esports viewers are women, according to a recent research brief from data company Interpret. While it’s not the gender parity many would hope for, a 30-percent share of viewership indicates a 6.5 percent increase over the past two years—a sign that the scale is balancing.

Only 20.3 percent of those who follow “identifiable esports leagues” are women, however. Interpret clarifies that their 30.4 percent female viewership data refers to viewers who have “at least watched an esports event/tournament.” This could mean the viewing of single games, while the 20 percent refers to those who keep track of leagues and watch more frequently. But there’s still growth.

“If two years from now, females grab an additional six percent in share, esports viewership will be in gender split parity with what we consider standard among traditional console and PC games,” said Interpret’s vice president of research Tia Christianson.

Data showing increased esports viewership among women|Image via Interpret

In addition, Interpret’s data reveals more about female gamers and where their interests lie. According to their research, 35 percent of players on console and PC esports titles are women. Blizzard titles, such as Overwatch and Hearthstone, logged the highest female participation at 26 percent each. Even major esports titles like CS:GO (24 percent) and Dota 2 (20 percent) show a similar level of involvement.

While these numbers are rising, Interpret’s data shows massive female involvement in another area: Casual, mobile games with competitive potential. Sixty-six percent of casual, mobile game users are female. In the chart below, games are judged on their gender parity, with a score of 100 being an even distribution of male and female players. PC/Mobile combination games like Fortnite (75) make gains, while popular mobile games like Pokémon Go (98) and Candy Crush (132) meet or exceed gender parity.

Chart showing the gender parity of various mobile, PC, and console games|Image via Interpret

What does Interpret’s data mean for the future of women as viewers and competitors in gaming? “More likely than not, a lot of that [viewership/participation] growth may come in non-traditional esport genres, and especially games tailored to mobile and tablet devices,” Christianson said. Companies, tournament organizers, and esports leagues as a whole may need to start thinking outside of consoles and gaming rigs to attract more female viewership in the future.