Closing the gap between esports and TV
2016 was another big year for esports, with the industry showing signs of becoming a global mainstream market. This year will be no different, another pivotal year for esports. As the convergence of games and traditional media accelerates, esports is leading the way. Already, esports has been broadcast on TV in more than a dozen new countries, major media companies have invested big into esports, and numerous traditional sports teams and agencies have entered the industry. Media rights trade is becoming a serious business and is expected to grow sevenfold from only $50 million in 2016 to close to $340 million in 2020. Further, even more major non-endemic brands will close big sponsorship deals with teams, leagues, and events. Nike, adidas, and Under Armour will battle it out for jerseys in 2017. Early movers are increasing their investment by several factors year on year. Ultimately, esports provides brands an entry point into the favourite pastime of digital natives and Millennials: gaming.
— Peter Warman CEO of Newzoo
Many pundits argue that esports is now reaching a tipping point in the market, moving from the out-group into the mainstream. What started as friends gathering together in each other’s homes to host LAN parties has now grown into official gaming tournaments and leagues with full time teams on big screens and sports stadiums. Television broadcasters are starting to compete for market share in the space as the industry grows. Software developers and event organisers want to reach a bigger audience with esports, while broadcasters are scurrying to find content that reliably reaches the 16–35 year old demographic. What we end up is a mutually beneficial situation between the two groups. Currently streaming is no puzzle for event organisers — they know exactly what they’re doing. It’s the world of television broadcasting that feels like a step into a completely different ball game. They quickly realise that having the technology in place is not the ingredient for success. It is about working with a partner that understands the intricacies of the television business, how it operates and what the production requirements are to be successful.
Many esports organisations understand this and have partnered with television broadcasters to host big events. There are now dedicated channels to watch esports, something that would be unheard of 5 years ago. With the esports train in full swing this trend will only continue, not just for TV but other industries will inevitably jump in on the growth that esports provides while providing expertise that the immature industry lacks.