ESports could be defined as a merge between gaming and sports events. Players, both in teams and individually, compete against each other in different computer games – an activity that has shown a phenomenal growth in interest the past years. As a reference, over 2.7bn of eSports videos were streamed last year only in North America.
eSports began as a way for publishers to build awareness of their games. Now the International eSports Federation is lobbying to have the genre recognised as an Olympic event by 2024 and there are already plans to build dedicated eSports arenas at some casinos in Las Vegas.
Traditional sports clubs and federations have also shown increasing interest in eSports – apart from European football clubs’ involvement in the international tournaments of FIFA18, the NBA and NHL are planning to do the same for basketball and ice hockey. Formula 1 is one of the last examples of sports organizations venturing into eSports.
The initial concept of eSports is to connect gamers from around the world, it is also a platform for brands and companies to promote their products.
Publishers and eSports tournament operators are engaging with broadcasters to leverage the increasing interest in eSports. Especially as a way for broadcasters to engage with younger and online audience that is difficult to attract. Some broadcasters like Sky and ITV in the UK, as well as Sweden-based MTG (Modern Times Group) have invested in eSports.
SO, WHY IS IT SO POPULAR?
There are a number of reasons eSports is reaching its mainstream inflection point. To some extent, it’s been years in the making. Part of it is that the sophistication of the games from both a technology and gameplay standpoint has grown significantly. Part of it is that the PC made games accessible without buying a dedicated console, and the introduction of the internet made it easy to play games with remote friends, meaning gaming didn’t have to be such a solitary experience.
WHAT IS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE MEDIA INDUSTRY?
For the younger online audience who never had a relationship to traditional television, eSports seems to be a good opportunity for creating long-term engagement. Having an online origin, eSports have primarily attracted non-traditional broadcast companies. Focusing on video streaming and especially live video, tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Amazon have found eSports as a good alternative to create increased growth.
Although the initial concept of eSports is to connect gamers from around the world to enter tournaments and compete with one another, it is also a platform for brands and companies to sponsor these tournaments and promote their products. This experience is made possible through Twitch.tv, which allows players to stream their gaming and viewers to witness the broadcaster focused on the game, seeing their reactions, answering viewers questions, making suggestions, and discussing their process and decision-making during gameplay. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, Intel, Red Bull, and ESPN all sponsor these tournaments and gamers by providing money, food, resources, and supports to these gaming enthusiasts.
But traditional broadcasters and platforms still have a stake in the game. Experience in producing and broadcasting live events creates an edge when it comes to eSports events. Big eSport events like Overwatch League or Dota (Defence of the Ancients) 2 Championships 2017, are becoming stadium-based events – like the non-electronic sports they were trying to beat. Dota 2 is by itself distributed to over 40 million homes worldwide.
HOW CAN GIBRALTAR GET A PIECE OF THE eSPORTS ACTION?
eSports is already the fastest-growing sector in the rapidly expanding sports betting market, and its piece of the pie is only going to get bigger in the years ahead. According to research done by NJ Games, the total amount bet on eSports competitions is expected to hit $12.9 billion by 2020, compared to the $5.5 billion bet on eSports in 2016, representing a 134% increase in just four years. Gibraltar-based online betting companies are already starting to embrace eSports betting and are pouring money into developing their offerings to enhance users’ experience and betting possibilities just as they do on real sports. Gibraltar can do much more in this space, from hosting international tournaments to attracting eSports technology companies, and much more.
Gibraltar-based online betting companies are pouring money into developing their offerings.
Indeed, eSports is a tremendous occasion to use technology to engage audiences – immersive experiences with the use of cutting-edge UHD technology and Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality proposals to visually enhance the eSports coverage.
At Benefit Business Solutions, we are already working with some of the leading-edge eSports technology companies working to deliver an unmatched digital viewing and playing experience to millions of eSports fans across the world.
The future is open and promising for eSports. Do you want to play?