Esports is viewed as a bit of a joke by those that do not partake.
It is just guys with spots, sitting in a dark room, slowly heading towards carpal tunnel syndrome.
Esports is the word on a lot sporting luminaries lips, as participation, revenue and interest are all growing, and fast. In 2016, Esports generated £400m of revenue, with projections of £1bn by 2019.
Is this just a flash in the pan? Or is there serious potential for this very recent phenomenon?
Twitch is a streaming platform that was acquired by Amazon for $970 million in 2014. Unlike its Prime Video section, Twitch exists for one purpose; gaming
More than 100 million of its users tune in to watch other gamers play a massive range of games, and on a variety of consoles. Considering the main criticism of gaming was its exclusive nature, now users can play alongside an engaged community of fans. What this has done is taken Esports outside the living room of the gamer, and to the wider world.
If you head over to twitch.tv you can watch a massive range of games. In seconds, I was immersed in a rather intense FIFA 17 game.
Albeit the intensity was lost on the thick German being shouted at the screen.
However, the real potential this has is for global competitions.
How would you say the prize money stacks up of winning the ultimate Esports competition the ‘League of Legends’ versus, say, the US Open Golf, the Cricket World Cup or the Olympics?
Well, it is right up there;
The League of Legends is fast becoming one of the most important single sporting events on the calendar. With over 10 million players playing live during peak hours, and 36 million tuning into the final match of the World Championships, that is a lot of eyeballs to target as a sponsor.
League of Legends is just one example of how Esports is taking off however. You may have seen at the end of last year, that Paris St. Germain recently signed three top FIFA players to represent their club. This is a clear sign that institutions, such as football teams, are ready to engage more current, and future, fans through the medium of Esports. For something like FIFA this becomes a no-brainer, due to the synergy between the sport and the game.
The FIFA Interactive World Cup was streamed live on YouTube, Twitch and broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 in the United States.
The world of Esports is only going to get bigger and better. You don’t need a field, a ball or even anyone to play with. There is always an arena, a pitch or a battlefield in the virtual world of Esports to contend in.
How to commercialise this new phenomonen will be the next challenge to ensure it is not a mere flash in the pan.