By now you’ve probably heard about eSports and the impact that they have had on the video game industry. If not, eSports is an activity where professional gamers compete against each other in video game tournaments (like the one for the popular League of Legends game) for generous cash prizes.
Esports is cool, the competitions are crazy, it’s intense, has million dollar performers, high stakes, and owners trying to tempt opposing team members over to their side. In short, it has everything that makes sports interesting to cover and it already has a large audience that’s only expected to grow.
Just last year, almost 40 million people watched the League of Legends World Finals – a 33% increase from 2004. In total, there was over 350 million hours of live coverage viewed.
Currently, the regular eSports audience is over 130 million, not counting the over 100 million viewers who only tune in for the major international events. Although impressive, those numbers do little to express the true potential of this market.
If its growth continues, its global audience could easily surpass billions. As such, manufacturers, participants, and brands have a unique opportunity to take advantage of a space that’s still undervalued, with plenty of territories to control. In fact, market researcher Newzoo estimates that the market will be worth $1.1 billion in 2019.
As is expected, this forecast has not only surprised naysayers, it’s caused forward thinking companies like Electronic Arts, ESPN, and Activision Blizzard to jump on the eSports bandwagon. They’ve even formed their own eSports divisions.
Six months later, and Activision seems to have made a wise decision. Viewership of their Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Championship broke competitive video gaming records. In fact, viewers watched over 40 million hours of gaming over the course of five days. When you put everything together, this means the event garnered over 70 million video views. What’s more? At one point, concurrent views were almost 2 million at their peak.
Large media companies are determined to find a way into this industry and gaming operators, like Royal Vegas online casino, are as well. Can you imagine competing in an online arena against other players in a slot game that is based on a global hockey event? Sounds interesting, right?
As eSports continues to grow in popularity, the focus is turning towards wagering on who’ going to win these events. Based on information from market research firm Eilers, fans are expected to bet over $23 billion on this industry within the next four years. Operators could generate almost $2 billion from tapping into this betting pool.
Many of the world’s largest bookmakers already take eSports bets on a regular basis. And, although this industry is still in its infancy, the betting volume already exceeds that of rugby, tennis, and golf.
And companies aren’t the only ones profiting from this industry, gamers are too. Last year, a top prize for a Vulcan tournament was $100,000. There are even tournaments where winners take home tens of millions of dollars. Do you know how many video games that can buy? Or, how much time you could spend playing on your favorite gaming sites like Royal Vegas?
The Bottom Line
eSports is very popular right now and the industry is growing at a tremendous rate. It has become a tangible thing. That is, eSports is now an industry that generates revenue and offers career possibilities. In this way, the ecosystem is validated. In fact, some experts believe that it will soon become one of the three top sports on the entire plant. Not bad for a hobby that started out in our living rooms – just like gaming on Royal Vegas.