The eSports phenomenon is just that: a phenomenon – and it's a global, growing one at that. Investors now have another exchange-traded fund (ETF) with which to access that theme following the debut of the VanEck Vectors Video Gaming and eSports ETF (ESPO) on Wednesday. The new ETF tracks the MVIS Global Video Gaming and eSports Index (MVESPOTR), "which is intended to track the overall performance of companies involved in video game development, eSports, and related hardware and software," according to VanEck.
While ESPO is not the first video game ETF to come to market, the growth of the gaming and eSports markets could support multiple competitors in this ETF arena. Further supporting the long-term thesis for ESPO and rival funds are compelling demographics associated with video game consumption and eSports participation and viewership.
The "competitive video gaming audience expected to reach 380 million people globally in 2018," according to VanEck. "eSports revenue growth has increased 40% yearly since 2015, supported by a young, affluent audience." Companies in the new ESPO must generate at least half their sales from video games or eSports. The new ETF holds 25 stocks.
Video games and related fare are "predicted to generate close to $140 billion in revenue in 2018, an increase of more than 13 percent from 2017," according to VanEck. "It's not just that people are playing more video games on more platforms; one of the driving factors of growth for the industry has been the emergence of professional video gaming, or eSports. We anticipate that established video game companies are set to benefit the most with the rise of eSports, through partnerships, league ownership, sponsorships, franchising, and other marketing arrangements."
Younger viewers are boosting ratings for eSports competition. Over the past year, the four most watched eSports competitions had viewership totals that were surpassed by just one traditional sporting event: the 2018 Super Bowl.
ESPO's top 10 holdings include video game makers, such as Activision Blizzard, Inc. (ATVI) and Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), as well as semiconductor names such as NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD). NVIDIA and Advanced Micro Devices are among the leading makers of graphics cards and chips that go into the high-end computers used by elite gamers. ESPO's annual expense ratio is 0.55 percent, or $55 on a $10,000 investment.