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Is #Covid19 an opportunity for #Esports to go mainstream? – SPONSOR Esports Entertainment Group $GMBL $TECHF $ATVI $TTWO $GAME $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 4:48 PM on Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

SPONSOR: Esports Entertainment Group (GMBL:NASDAQ) – Millions of people from around the world tune in to watch teams of video game players compete with each other. In first quarter 2020, YouTube reported 1.1 billion hours watched, an increase of 13% when compared to fourth quarter 2019. Wagering on Esports is projected to hit $23 BILLION this year although that number will likely be eclipsed due to the recent pandemic. Esports Entertainment Group is the next generation online gambling company designed for the purpose of facilitating as much of this wagering as possible.  LEARN MORE.

Is Covid-19 an opportunity for esports to go mainstream?

  • Even though the traditional sports industry has a forecast value of $614 billion in 2022, TV audiences are increasingly dwindling
  • With most eSports largely free to view for fans, is this now an opportunity to push that growth forecast of $180 billion to something even more ambitious?

By: John Griffiths

The current global health crisis caused by the Covid-19 virus has had a major impact on almost every country, industry and person globally. One industry, among many, that has come to a complete halt is sports. Most major sports have either halted, postponed or cancelled their season. Even the pinnacle of global sport, the Olympic Games, has been postponed until 2021.

At a time when the vast majority of the population is confined to their homes, watching live sport on TV would have been a very pleasurable way to while away the extra hours saved on the daily commute. Alas, with all sport cancelled, aside from a few repeats of classic matches or races, there is a void for sports fans.

Is this an opportunity for eSports and online gaming to become more mainstream?

Creating an engaging experience

Whether we are talking football (all forms), F1, basketball, boxing or golf, there are competitions that can be organised and run with real players but using digital balls, clubs and cars. There is still competition, strategy, jeopardy and tension to create fan engagement and excitement. There are also lower costs, far fewer safety issues but also a lack of physicality and combative (non-violent of course) player interaction. Yes, some things are taken away from the real world versions and it’s a different experience, but presented well it can still be an engaging sporting experience.

However, there is another category of eSports or online gaming that for huge swathes of older sports fans has utterly passed them by. We are talking Fortnite, PUBG, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) to name a few. In the past few years, these games have grown massively around the world and many now hold competitions offering millions of dollars in prize money and attracting audiences of tens of thousands to live events and millions online.

There are star players with huge online followings, PewDiePie with over 100million YouTube and 20 million Instagram followers or Ninja with 23 million YouTube, 15 million Instagram and 14 million Twitch subscribers, for example. Then there are the well organised and well-funded teams such as Team Liquid and OG, training and competing to win these significant prizes. They have major household names as their sponsors, and each have racked up over $30million dollars in prize money alone so far. These players and teams are not teenage geeks in their bedrooms. They are highly skilled professionals running significant operations that easily match the complexity and scale of all but the largest of traditional sports teams.

Aiming high

Unlike traditional sports, these new online gaming environments are not tied down with huge legacy infrastructure, traditionalism and – in too many cases – vested interests and corruption. Despite the market forecast for the gaming industry set to be worth $180 billion in 2021 and almost all the top games and streaming platforms being owned by a small number of large corporations including Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Tencent, they have allowed and supported the games developers and players to lead the direction of development. At the moment, many are adopting a considerably more bottom-up rather than top-down driven approach to the development of their sports.

Even though the traditional sports industry has a forecast value of $614 billion in 2022, TV audiences are increasingly dwindling. This is largely driven by more and more sports appearing on Pay TV and behind a paywall. Subscribers are voting with their dollars and choosing not subscribe and pay to watch, as observed with F1 last year.

With most eSports largely free to view for fans, is this now an opportunity to push that growth forecast of $180 billion to something even more ambitious? After all, most traditional sports have really only grown their value in the last 20 or 30 years with the growth of Pay TV, and if subscribers are turning away at the increased cost but still crave competition and excitement, why shouldn’t eSports fill the gap?

Finding a way to bring this traditional TV audience online with ease of use and a great user experience that is a little TV-like in terms of browsing and discovering content is key. Apps on smart TVs and casting from mobile to TV is probably one way forward and will avoid the TV tax and the enforcement of paywalls. The right marketing and communications plan and key partnerships will be important to reach this new audience.

Whilst we hope the world does not see another global crisis like Covid-19, it may just present an opportunity for eSports to accelerate its growth and find a new audience. An audience that hopefully will see the excitement, exhilaration and enjoyment that younger audiences have enjoyed and nurtured for the last decade or so and that, with that that bit more spending power, will drive harder and faster the growth of eSports.


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