eSport vs. Sport: A Comparison of Spectator Motives

Anthony D. Pizzo
Bradley J. Baker
Sangwon Na
Mi Ae Lee
Doohan Kim
and Daniel C. Funk

eSports–organized video game competitions–are growing in popularity, with top tournaments drawing crowds of spectators rivaling traditional sporting events. Understanding the extent to which eSport operates similarly to traditional sport is vital to developing marketing strategies for the eSport industry and informing academic research on eSport. Prior research has examined eSports in isolation from traditional sports, overlooking direct comparisons to understand the degree to which eSport spectators are motivated similarly to traditional sport spectators. The current study measures widely-used sport consumption motives to ex-amine their influence on eSport spectatorship and game attendance frequency. In South Korea, spectator motives across one traditional sport (soccer) and two eSport contexts (FIFA Online 3 and StarCraft II) were measured. MANOVA results identify similar patterns for 11 out of 15 motives across the three. Significant differences between contexts include vicarious achievement, excitement, physical attractiveness, and family bonding. Multiple regression analysis results show that spectators across contexts have distinct sets of motives influencing game attendance. The current study demonstrates that traditional sport and eSports are similarly consumed, suggesting that sport industry professionals can manage and market eSport events similarly to traditional sport events