The mainstream rise of esports may seem a wild idea to those without an intimate knowledge of the industry. But experts predict the professional video gaming sector could rival the most significant traditional sports leagues in future commercial opportunities.
Even Steve Bornstein, a former CEO of ESPN and NFL Network, backs this view. He currently sits in the esports camp, chairing Blizzard’s esports division, but the evidence is hard to ignore.
Even in 2016, more people watched the League of Legends finals than Game 7 of the NBA Finals, and it wasn’t close: 43 million to 31 million.
The esports market has been growing like a snowball tumbling down a mountain. In 2008, the available prize money according to a Newzoo report was put at just $6.4 million. By 2019, this figure had skyrocketed to $228.8 million.
While the popularity of esports continues to explode, business opportunities, including advertising, ticket sales, sponsorships, and merchandising, will attract substantial inward investment. And with that money comes the opportunity to market the sector to an even wider audience.
Managed correctly, the industry can lead the sports world for decades to come.
Sportsbooks and online betting sites are some of the shrewdest businesses. If there is a market to exploit, then they will seize upon it, desperate to get an edge on the competition and to attract new customers.
We’ve already seen big betting companies putting up markets for the most prominent esports events, and new platforms are always emerging. This includes Luckbox, which is a bespoke betting platform for esports.
This is indeed good news for esports fans who have loads of knowledge and might feel they can get one over on the sportsbooks. But if you think you need an online sports betting guide first, then you can read more at platforms like online-gambling.com.
Money from the sportsbooks will feed back into esports, just as big European betting companies pay fortunes in sponsorship money to soccer teams.
But other opportunities include more extensive viewing exposure. With substantial live crowds at high-profile events, there are also massive online viewing figures, mostly through streaming channels. It can’t be long before mainstream television shows esports live as a matter of routine rather than an occasional exception.
With that sort of exposure, sponsorship opportunities will go through the roof for game developers, teams, and the players.
For such a technology-driven sector, innovation and new tech are essential to keep ahead of the curve and maintain relevance with today’s tech-savvy young audience.
Perhaps one of the biggest growth opportunities is via the very market esports hope to overtake: traditional sports. We have already seen esports teams emerge from the professional sports arena with, for example, esports Formula One teams, esports versions of professional soccer teams, and more.
As these esports variants of sporting brands continue to gain more traction, awareness grows, and the supporters of the original sports teams naturally leak out their allegiance to the the esports version.
Once hooked on the esports world, it’s up to the industry to expose these new fans to other forms of competition, with games like Dota 2 and League of Legends providing similar experiences.
Esports has been with us for a while, but its extraordinary rise in popularity, at least from a commercial standpoint, has only become significant over the past few years. The upward curve shows no sign of slowing any time soon, so those predictions of matching mainstream sport might not be so wide off the mark.
Aside from the remarkable engineering and innovation behind Formula One, it’s hard to see a more technology-driven sport than the one that captures the fascination of gamers everywhere.
According to a Video Gaming Consoles Global Survey that featured responses from nearly 18,000 console players, they spent more time video gaming each day on average than looking at social media. And if something is capable of keeping people away from the lure of Facebook or Instagram, it has to be worth jumping on.