TV networks now say the market is ripe for growth. Research shows that, current U.S. viewership of eSports -- the name of this growing category -- is estimated around 32 million people, especially from the likes of streaming video service Twitch, which helped turn video games into a spectator sport.
That number is expected to grow to more than 50 million by 2017. Overall, eSports is estimated as a $612-million global market with 134 million fans.
And how about this: Fans spend as much as $200 a weekend to see these video gaming contests. Over half that audience is under 35.
Yes, the younger crowd -- all more reason to make connections with this market.Traditional TV viewership among millennials is lower for sure than other viewing groups; it could use a big push.
Turner Broadcasting and talent agency William Morris Endeavor's IMG sports and media division are starting up a video game competitive series -- as well as a gaming center at Turner’s Atlanta studios.
Turner will begin televising the competition in 2016, with 10 consecutive weeks of programming, two editions per year, to air on Friday nights. For the first season, the featured game will be “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” from Valve Corp.
None of this is exactly new. Years ago, MTV, USA Network, DirecTV and others started televising matches. But it didn’t last.
Times are different now. Millennials aren’t necessarily leaving TV in droves: But they are restless, looking for the next big thing no matter what media platform it lands on.
Detractors don’t think it’ll work this time, either -- especially for traditional TV set viewing.
Former TV sports executive -- now consultant -- Neal Pilson says production costs and advertising revenues don’t add up -- but video streaming would.