ESports have come a long way since the old LAN competitions in the 90s. Back in days of dial-up, prize pools were small, and events were few and far between. But we have seen an evolution in professional gaming over the last 20 years. Something that was once scoffed at by the mainstream has become a billion dollar global industry. Competitions are regularly held all over the world with prize pools reaching into the tens of millions. ESports have become so popular that even Las Vegas and online sportsbooks like Intertops cover the events, so check their review if you want to place some action.
But eSports are unique because the fanbase is global. Unlike a sport like a football, where it is really only popular in the United States and Canada, or Cricket where it has huge followings in England, Australia, India, and South Africa, eSports are has become popular across the globe. The different leagues are followed by people from all the major continents. It has created a unique platform for professional, casual gamers and fans, brands, businesses, and marketers around the world.
ESports Has Massive Viewership
The 2018 Mid Season Invitational League of Legends grand final between Royal Never Give Up, and KingDragonX was a rating juggernaut. According to eSports Charts, over 127,000,000 (one-hundred-twenty-seven-million) people tuned in to watch the final event that was unfolding in China. Let that number sink in for a moment. 127 million. The Premier League averages about 12 million viewers world-wide per game. The USA’s last Super Bowl had 103 million viewers. Game 3 of the NBA finals had just 17.9 million pairs of eyeballs watching. So, one eSports match had more views than all four games of the NBA Finals or a little more than six EPL matches combined. That alone speaks for itself as to why people should take notice of eSports.
And this isn’t an isolated event. The League of Legends 2017 World Champion semi-finals had over 107 million eyes watching. And there are dozens of events with 30 to 40 million viewers each over the last couple of years. This brings new avenues and new ways to reach millennial and iGen markets for businesses around the globe.
Esports is Receiving Major Corporate Backing
When sports guys start buying eSports leagues, you know things are merging. Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots recently bought a Boston-based Overwatch franchise. There are a variety of European football teams that are investing into eSports teams, and the Philadelphia 76ers already own two eSports teams. But big companies and big money are jumping on the eSports band wagon. Mega corporations like Coca-Cola, Red Bull, and McDonalds are leveraging the power of eSports for their brands with sponsorships. In fact, since 2016 over 600 sponsors have been secured by the different eSports leagues.
ESports Could Be Olympics Bound
We are likely to see eSports in the Summer Olympics in the very near future. How soon this will happen is still an unknown, but it could be as early as 2024. How seriously the Olympic committee will take eSports in the initial discussions remains to be seen. But the followership and sponsorships are there. Being added to the Olympic Games would add a level of legitimacy to eSports take it fully to the mainstream … but only to those that are not already familiar and accepting of the professional gaming industry. To those looking at the metrics now, eSports are already quite legitimate.
Universities Are Providing ESports Scholarships
The University of Utah became the first Power 5 School to offer eSports scholarships. The university created a varsity eSports team that competes in League of Legends, OVERWATCH, Hearthstone, and Rocket League.
There are dozens of smaller colleges and universities offering eSports scholarships, but when we see a Power 5 school leveraging eSports for the benefit of the school, we can be sure that it goes beyond just building a better future for the students and has firm financial ties as well. eSports are becoming another revenue source for colleges across the United States and this is something that the UK could start to see soon as well.
There is a Whole New Job Market Being Created by ESports
ESports has opened up an entirely new niche job market. From the obvious, programmers and development experts to design the games, to massive increases in logistical support jobs in IT. There is also a whole slew of new jobs that might not be as obvious, like the coaches for these new university teams that we mentioned above. Event promoters, eSports journalists, gaming bloggers, and content strategists. Social media marketers etc. The list could go on and on. Pretty much every job that would surround any other sport is needed in the eSports niche and demand is growing.