Chess is the sleeping giant of the sports/entertainment world.
Do I feel a new trend brewing? This one came out of left field entirely. I could be totally wrong on this but it looks like Chess is taking over main stream sports (or is it a sport?). Okay, that’s a huge stretch but there seems to be a surge in chess not only from just my personal friend group but now from the new Netflix hit The Queen’s Gambit, a fictional story that follows the life of an orphan chess prodigy named Beth Harmon.
The main takeaway from this show is that it challenges the historical uncomfortable question — Is chess cool? Let’s take a look at some data.
- According to data from Apptopia, daily U.S. downloads of the top four mobile chess games across the Apple and Google app stores are up 63% since the show debuted
- Hours watched of chess on the streaming platform Twitch roughly doubled every month from January until May
- Chess players now make up one of the largest communities in the world: 605 million adults play chess regularly — a number comparable to regular users of Facebook.
- Most surprising is the percentage of adults who actually currently play chess (either weekly, monthly or during the past year): 12% in the UK; 15% in the U.S. 23% in Germany; 43% in Russia; and 70% among the 121m Indians considered ABC1 by advertisers.
My take on WHERE chess is heading
Just based on some basic data above — the market size for chess is massive. This personally is giving me the same feeling of when people questioned why would I watch someone play video games or video games won’t get you anywhere in life. Just five years ago, there were 1.5 billion active gamers. Today, there are now more than 2.5 billion active gamers around the world. Since two years ago chess alone has 605 million adults playing daily without a huge amount of social attention. Top renown player like Magnus Carlsen has the potential to become a highly regarded streamer on twitch and reach the masses of their already huge active player base. Chess already has the elements built for success such as audience, professional gaming, easy access to play and sponsorships. The only thing that is missing is the “cool” factor. This is where I think that cool factor has recently started to rise exponentially with The Queen’s Gambit and will continue to rise over the next year when social influencers jump ship.
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