8bit Thug Reveals Indian Esports Players and Streamers Earnings
Here's how much money livestreamers, esports players, and gaming content creators are earning in India.
Founder of S8UL Esports and 8bit Creatives, Animesh ‘8bit Thug’ Agarwal recently spoke about the connection between gamers and money on an episode of “Thug Talks”. In it, he talks about his view of how professional Indian gamers including esports athletes, streamers, and content creators are able to earn money through various revenue sources. He goes on to provide a rough estimate of their total earnings, while also explaining the various criteria which directly affect them. By broadly dividing professional gamers between esports players and streamers, Agarwal breaks down their total earnings into different categories and puts a price bracket against each to highlight every source of income.
How Much Money Do Indian Livestreamers, Esports Players and Gaming Content Creators Make?
Gaming has taken India by storm in the last few years. With the influx of budget smartphones and pocket-friendly internet data prices, mobile gaming has experienced explosive growth and has changed the trajectory of the Indian gaming industry. India has witnessed the rise of homegrown gaming content creators, livestreamers, and even world-class esports athletes in games like (the now banned) PUBG Mobile.
To highlight just how financially successful these Indian gamers are, Agarwal came forward to reveal some key statistics about their earnings.
Esports Player Earnings in India
Agarwal divides an esports player’s earning sources into two broad categories - salary and prize winnings. He also states that there are certain really popular players who have an immense brand value due to which they are able to earn through individual sponsorships as well.
When it comes to hard numbers, Agarwal claims that a decent mobile esports player could end up earning between INR 40,000 ($546) to INR 75,000 ($1,023) per month, while top-rated Indian esports players earn as much as INR 1,00,000 ($1,364) to INR 1,50,000 ($2,046). He also claims that mid to top tier PC esports players earn between INR 25,000 ($341) and INR 80,000 ($1,091) per month.
When it comes to prize money, Agarwal claims that top players who earn close to a million dollars in salary usually have a very low share in prize winnings with their organizations keeping as high as 90% of the amount won.
Our previous research on the subject revealed that esports organizations in India generally follow a 70%-30% split in favour of the players, with organizations realizing that prize money is not scalable or sustainable as a revenue source. For a deeper understanding of how esports organizations make money in India, and a breakdown of the total Indian esports prize money in 2020, .
Agarwal also touched upon the subject of individual sponsorships for esports players with large fan followings. He qualified this with an example of Tanmay "Scout" Singh becoming a ‘Monster Esports Athlete’, which would act as a bonus for him. And while he didn’t reveal the specifics of the deal, he stated that these sponsorships generally pay well.
Livestreamer and Content Creator Earnings in India
Along with the introduction of multiple competitive circuits within the country came a growth spurt in gaming content creation and livestreaming. This led to the rise of many gaming and esports influencers in India who livestream their gameplay for audiences.
Monetization through the platform itself is usually the largest piece of the pie. In India, YouTube Gaming is widely considered the leading gaming livestream platform. On-platform monetization for YouTube includes features such as ‘Super Chat’ and ‘Channel Membership’.
According to Agarwal, assuming the channel and the brand is well managed, a popular Indian streamer with close to 10 million subscribers could end up making close to $1 million (INR 7,33,19,857) a year. Similarly, he states that a streamer with around 1 million subscribers earns between $150,000 (INR 1,09,97,979) and $200,000 (INR 1,46,63,971) a year. Finally, those with 300K-500K subscribers can still manage to earn close to $100,000 (INR 73,31,986) a year.
In addition to this, revenue through advertisements also comes into play. This depends on its own set of metrics like watch time, the number of ads in a particular video, and the CPM (Cost-Per-Mille, a.k.a the cost for 1,000 ad impressions) on the video. Ad revenue contributes significantly to a streamer’s or content creator’s total earnings.
Assuming a creator runs four ads in a 10-minute long video with a million views, which gets at least an average watch duration of 40%, Agarwal claims that the ad revenue generated from it will be close to INR 24,000 ($327). He stated that he hasn’t seen significant variations in CPMs across the gaming YouTube channels that he manages and backs up these stats by saying,
“These numbers are not superficial. The first-hand experience of a lot of Indian YouTubers making this amount is something that I know of.”Animesh ‘8bit Thug’ Agarwal
Using this data, we can make reasonable estimates about the ad revenue earned by some of the largest gaming and esports creators in India. INR 24,000 for 1 million views implies a video RPM (Revenue Per Mille, a.k.a the amount of money earned per 1,000 video views) of INR 24 ($0.33). On the basis of this, some of the largest gaming creators such as Techno Gamerz and Total Gaming could well be making over INR 50,00,000 ($68.194.35) per month in YouTube ad revenue alone.
The salary estimates provided above only serve as a decent ballpark figure and it does not provide a comprehensive view of their actual total earnings. In order to calculate total earnings, a lot of other highly variable individual parameters would have to be taken into consideration. This would include amounts earned through various other sources like streaming fees paid by platforms, short and long term brand sponsorships, merchandise sales, earnings through affiliate links, bonus tournament performance prize money, and donations to name a few.
In the article, a conversion rate of USD 1 = INR 73.32 is used.
Viewership stats were obtained through Social Blade.