Did anyone ever tell you that you were wasting your time playing video games? Well, looks like they were wrong.
There’s a new entertainment spectacle that involves a large amount of fans watching the best of the best engage in intense competition – playing video games.
Welcome to the extreme world of eSports. While video games have been popular for more than 30 years, competitive gaming – or eSports – has recently emerged as a spectator activity that can draw thousands of attendees and viewers.
- Let’s look at some facts:
- The global eSports market, which grew to $696 million in 2016, is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2019.
- Media payments for rights to cover eSports events total nearly $100 million.
- Consumers are paying $64 million of that $100 million for event tickets and merchandise. Most of the rest comes from advertising and sponsorship spending.
- The combined markets of China and North America account for more than half of global eSports revenues.
In fact, it is extremely simple for anyone who wishes to watch eSports to find a broadcast. Networks like ESPN, Turner Broadcasting, and the Big Ten Network regularly broadcast eSports events. Beyond that, however, matches are on demand — thanks to YouTube and Twitch.Tv, a streaming service that specializes in video game streams and was purchased by Amazon for almost $1 billion in 2014.
Downtown Los Angeles recently hosted the Biz-eSports Summit, an investor-focused event focused on the idea that there are monetizing options around the growing audience of people who want to watch eSports.
- The final matches of the “League of Legends” World Finals held in Chicago drew 43 million viewers.
- ESPN aired an eSports match – the Paris Regional Finals for FIFA 17 – opposite Super Bowl 51.
- eSports broadcasts appear on more than just sports channels. TBS will broadcast the “Injustice 2” global finals this fall.
Part of the attraction of eSports is that viewers (and attendees at events) play the very same games as the eSports stars, often in similar real-time, multiplayer tournaments. These at-home players are very interested in seeing how top-level players handle situations that are familiar to them and observe their innovative techniques.
UK schools offer eSports as an option for an after-school club, and even colleges are creating esports programs. In 2014, Robert Morris University launched a “League of Legends” varsity program, and today approximately 25 schools have followed suit. Officially sanctioned university teams help boost the awareness of eSports, as well as direct more eyes to the games played in competitions.
While “League of Legends” is expanding on a collegiate level, another game, “Overwatch,” is gaining popularity globally and is attempting to redefine the eSports landscape with The Overwatch League.
The Overwatch League is a reinvention of eSports that hopes to help the everyday player become an eSports star. The league will launch in 2018 with franchises in major cities across the globe. League players will sign contracts with their teams and matches will be broadcast on TV and internet-based channels.
In short, the Overwatch League is going to mirror every other sports league.
Which makes sense. The sports media landscape is changing, and eSports are a natural evolution of that process. Competitive video gaming as a spectator sport may have seemed ridiculous a few decades ago, but broadband internet, social media, and online video have propelled esports from a niche market to a burgeoning consumer entertainment industry.
If you’re hosting an esports extravaganza, or any live event, give The Trade Group a call at 800-343-2005. Our decades of event management experience will help you own the competition, power up your event, and create the experience of a lifetime for your audience.