Professional sports is huge. The king of sports, Soccer, has over 250 million active players and generated 3.2B views for the 2014 World Cup and is expected to generate 200 million more at this year’s installation.
With audiences in every corner of the globe, many pro sports teams have become household names like the Dallas Cowboys, The Yankees, Manchester United and Barcelona. Forbes values each of these teams at over 3 billion dollars.
With all this money and TV audiences can there be room for more? Moreover, can an upstart overtake the likes of the NBA, NFL and MLB? One that doesn’t even require you to run around a sports field?
The answer is yes. Esports is on the fastback to being the biggest sport on the planet. Also, this promises to disrupt everything we know about pro sports, how we spend our leisure time and beyond.
Once you overcome the apparent differences between athletic sports and Esports, you’ll be amazed at how closely they mirror each other. Because the young Esport industry has quickly adopted the systems and structures of existing analogue professional sports, the rise, and domination, by the Esport market is beyond doubt.
Here are five reasons that guarantee the success of Esports.
Massive primetime audience
Esports has emerged out of the shadows and has already reached a tipping point in popularity. In 2017, the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational attracted over 360 million unique viewers. Remember, the Super Bowl enjoys approximately 100 million viewers each year.
Heros to celebrate
The NFL has Brady, and the NBA has LeBron. Esports has Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi, Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo and Damon “Karma” Barlow. So the community comes out in force to see them online and in-person. A gigantic crowd of 173,000 turned out in Katowice, Poland to watch the recent Intel Extreme Masters.
Casual gaming gateway
Don’t laugh! However, Candy Crush and Fruit Ninja are legitimate entry points for casual gamers. Candy Crush has generated over 2.7 billion downloads of its game, and its developer, King Digital Entertainment, was purchased for 5.9 billion in 2015. With billions of regular folks playing games on smartphones every day, it’s easy to jump from your iPhone into a console or PC for your gaming fix.
Pathways to follow
Developers are not the only ones getting on the Esports bandwagon. Over 80 American universities are involved in the varsity gaming environment. They have already supported 1,500+ student-athletes to develop their skills. You can even get a scholarship at the University of Utah for competitive video gaming.
We all know playing a game is fun. However, who would have thought that watching someone else play a video game was equally as compelling. Looking at Twitch, the case for video gaming as a viewing activity is substantial.
Twitch, now owned by Amazon for $970 million, has over 100 million users. However, the craziest number they offer is this: the average user spends 106 minutes per day viewing content on the service.
On Twitch the audience is often watching a wave of new cult personalities such as ElRubiusOMG and Fernanfloo, but none of these come close to the controversial YouTube star PewDiePie (63 million YouTube followers). This wacky homemade gaming superstar from Sweden has gone from working at a Hot Dog stand to be one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People” according to TIME magazine.
Plenty of profits
The competitive Esports segment of the overall gaming market will generate revenues of $906 million in 2018, a year-on-year growth of +38.2%.
These profits pale in comparison to the traditional pro sports; however it is sure to catch up fast. Importantly, brands are already seeing the opportunity. They will invest $694 million in the Esports industry this year. So you’ll have no shortage of Coke or RedBull to turbocharge your Esports.
The Esports industry is seeing double-digit growth in all the key areas: audience, superstars, casual playing base, varsity pathways, media and distribution. So lean in and get ready as Esports launches itself into a massive business and social phenomenon.