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Sub-Saharan brands can do well by advertising via esports

It is widely accepted that esports viewership has grown in the last 20 years, and is now becoming a pastime to counter the viewing of traditional sport. As we saw in our previous study, viewership in sub-Saharan countries is on the rise dramatically, in line with global trends.
E-sports grow a following in sub-Saharan Africa

Borderless Access conducted a 15-country study to explore active and passive participation in e-sports. Today, we look specifically at viewership of e-sports in sub-Saharan Africa...

Issued by Borderless Access 9 Jun 2021


Today, we follow on to these findings, exploring esports playing to understand the mindset and preferences of those who deem themselves to be professional or serious players.

Image source: Bartek Mazurek on Unsplash
For brands wishing to communicate to this growing target market, we present entry points and focus areas to communicate effectively with this youthful and important consumer set.

Kenyans and Nigerians introduced to the concept via traditional TV channels

Friends are the greatest influence in introducing players to the world of esports, followed by social media. The sub-Saharan countries are fairly in line with global trends although watching games on sports TV channels is more of an influence in Nigeria and especially Kenya than it is in the rest of the world. 

This immediately presents a key area of focus for sub-Saharan brands wishing to target the esports players in these countries: By doing so via these traditional channels – which we know still hold a great deal of weight in the region.

Nigerians are also highly influenced by social media, a trend we have seen before with regards to consumer behaviour. South Africans show a higher than global influence via existing esports teams, indicating that esports are becoming well supported in South Africa from a school and community perspective.

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A third of players in Nigeria call themselves professionals

Globally, 28% of players classify themselves as professionals, and 38% as serious players. In South Africa and Kenya, these numbers are slightly lower, with more players seeing themselves as casual than the global average. However, Nigeria shows a different picture with a third classifying themselves as professionals and just over another third as serious players.

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Nearly half of esport players globally started playing before the age of 20, with another 21% having started before the age of 25. Sub-Saharan countries follow this trend, with the activity still being relatively new and strongly driven by a younger market.

Opportunities for South African and Kenyan marketers to sponsor esports teams

South Africa has the highest incidence of those who play via school/college or office teams but are not sponsored. Nigeria has a high incidence of players sponsored by a brand, which supports the finding that we saw above, of proportionately more professional players in this country than in South Africa and Kenya.

The opportunity certainly seems apparent for South African and Kenyan marketers to consider official sponsorship of esports teams, as a way of increasing brand awareness amongst this youthful and growing consumer market.

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Sub-Saharan players are streaming their online gameplay more than the global average, with YouTube being by far the most used platform for this activity. Facebook gaming is also popular, especially in South Africa and Nigeria, and steaming via TV is particularly prevalent in South Africa.

This gives marketers an immediate focus area in terms of platforms on which to focus their marketing efforts when it comes to targeting this consumer set.

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South African players achieve more followers than players in Kenya and Nigeria

Globally, about 40% of esports players have a following of over 5,000. In South Africa, this number aligns with global findings yet in Nigeria and Kenya it is lower. 

In terms of views per season, South Africans 15% of South African players achieve over 5,000 in contrast to 18% globally. Nigerians and Kenyans achieve lower views per season indicating that players in these markets have not yet achieved the public following that players in other countries have.

This suggests that marketers in South Africa would be wise to leverage off the high number of followers of South African players by considering sponsorship opportunities for rising esports players, thereby increasing targeted communication to their dedicated follower base.

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Brands should employ different strategies in different countries

As we have seen, targeted focus on sponsorship opportunities appears to be a good strategy for South African brands to attract the esports target consumer market. However, in Nigeria and Kenya, where esports is still shared largely via means of traditional television, a strategy that incorporates this channel would reach this consumer set effectively. 

In Nigeria, as we have seen via other studies, social media is a strong channel for conveying marketing messages and one in which consumers place a great deal of trust. esports is no exception to this rule.

Lastly, in terms of streaming platforms, YouTube and Facebook gaming are popular in all sub-Saharan countries, most notably in South Africa and Nigeria, indicating that these channels would be best to use to target this growing set of consumers.

Borderless Access can help you to access always-on smart consumer panels to effectively measure your brand’s performance and keep ahead of the market. For more information contact Bev Tigar-Bassett - AVP, business development, South Africa I Borderless Access,, +27 79 572 6233.

Borderless Access
Borderless Access is an award-winning digital market research product and solutions company. We fulfil the dynamic and multi-dimensional research demands of our global clientele with our technology-enabled insights solutions and first-party hyper-niche digital audiences.
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