SET-listed telecom operator True Corporation is preparing to tap into e-sports users to expand its 5G subscriber base, as it sees a promising trend in connected devices.
The country is expected to see the number of 5G subscribers reach 11-12 million in 2022, up from 3-4 million last year, the firm said.
"The company is seeing a growth in gaming in Thailand. The country is one of the fastest growing markets in Asia," said Teeradet Dumrongbhalasitr, co-president of True. The gaming market in Thailand is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 29% from 2021 to 2025.
Asia's top 10 markets are expected to see 840 million gamers in 2025, up from 714 million in 2021. Total gaming revenue from the top 10 markets is predicted to reach US$41.8 billion in 2025, up from $35 billion in 2021, Mr Teeradet said.
Citing gaming research firm NewZoo, Mr Teeradet said Thailand has 32 million gamers, 16 million of whom are in the e-sports ecosystem.
There are 12 million players regarded as casual gamers who spend 0.5-2 hours a day gaming, 2.9 million defined as amateurs, spending 2-5 hours a day gaming, and 1.1 million professional gamers who spend 8-10 hours a day gaming.
Big brands are driving investments in e-sports, while online streaming platforms also engage in the industry.
Mr Teeradet noted that those who engage in e-sports are big spenders. Average revenue per user in this group is 15-20% higher than regular users.
Video, music streaming, and Internet of Things devices for smart homes, such as 5G-enabled CCTV cameras and speakers, are growing in popularity amongst users, he added.
Piroon Paireepairit, head of 5G for True, said 5G adoption is still in its infancy and more 5G-enabled smartphones costing less than 5,000 baht are needed to push up the adoption rate.
To boost the number of 5G subscribers, True invested 2.6 million baht to organise the first "True 5G Young Master" and "True 5G Thailand Master 2022" gaming tournaments.
"Together with Kantana Group, we offer opportunities to youngsters and the general public to show off their skills," said Mr Piroon.
"These events will also serve as a platform to find new e-sports athletes, while providing a vital pivot point in creating a community of gamers and a space for them to hone their skills, paving a path for becoming professionals. All of these elements will contribute to growing the Thai e-sports industry sustainably."
As of July, the country's 5G subscribers had reached 8 million and the number of True's 5G subscribers doubled in the first half of this year, Mr Piroon said.
Some 16 million smartphones are expected to be sold in the country this year, including 6-7 million 5G-enabled handsets, he said, adding that the market could see flat growth or a year-on-year decline.