If I were to give you the opportunity to own one major league sports franchise, which one would you choose, the All-American Dallas Cowboys, the revered New York Yankees, or even that local team you bled the colors of from childhood into your adult years? I may be in the minority here, but I’d tell you none of them. Not because I wouldn’t want one, but because the marketer and entrepreneur in me sees greater opportunity elsewhere — in eSports.
This begs plenty of questions, but the simple answer is that eSports is the new frontier. The gamer has evolved from the stereotypical recluse in his mother’s basement to celebrated international icon. You may not realize it yet, but eSports have arrived and it’s only a matter of time before you’re trying to knock my squad from its perch on top.
Gaming is the great equalizer; it brings people from a variety of demographics to the proverbial entertainment watering hole. TV and Internet cannot offer brands undivided consumer attention the way gaming platforms can. Marketers are starting to take notice as non-endemic brands slowly trickle into the purview. Gaming is offering them access to a more diverse audience than single TV networks or unique web pages can—an audience that is more occupationally stable, tech-savvy, and holds more disposable income than the average American. These attributes not only refute the common gamer stereotype, but set brands up for years of sustained success within the gaming market if approached from the right angle.
The best part is, gamers are only a fraction of the total audience! Non-participating spectators actually comprise 84% of the scene. You know what that means? It’s as much of a spectator sport as the other more traditional sports conglomerates. Think I’m joking? The League of Legends World Championship Final this past October sold out Berlin’s Mercedes-Benz Arena in three minutes. Yes, three minutes. On top of that, it drew a cool 36 million unique viewers. Not too shabby when you consider only 33.4 million tuned into the NCAA Basketball National Championship last year. The astounding numbers speak for themselves and we’ve only scratched the surface of its potential.
Gaming is addicting—just ask anyone who has ever played a videogame and they will agree. Whether it’s Tetris, Halo, or the almighty League of Legends, the message from gamers remains the same: they’re in it to win it. Now, when you consider the payout from tournaments like League of Legends is topping $2 million, it’s clear why more and more people are taking an intense interest in the sport. More than 200 professionals now earn more than $40,000 a year, and that doesn’t even take into account sponsorship earnings. These competitors are already making more than your average tennis or golf player. Once more brands board the eSports ship, it’s not unfathomable to believe these guys will compete for total earnings with your household baseball and football names.
Beyond all of that, this industry is built differently than any other. They say the NFL owns a day of the week; eSports has the power to own an entire week! The sport never stops—it’s being streamed 24 hours a day on Twitch. Teams that spend upwards of 50 hours a week practicing can stream their own practice sessions and earn additional revenue from that. That’s 50 hours a week of heavily viewed content that brands can be a constant presence in — all around the world. There’s constant excitement at every turn. What’s not to like?
Now is the time to join the movement. Former NBA star Rick Fox recently bought the League of Legends division of Gravity Gaming for $1million—pennies when you compare to the average valuation of your favorite NFL and MLB franchises. If you can’t see why this industry excites me, then I guess you don’t share my passion just yet. However, if you’re all-in like me, then join my bandwagon before it gets too full. If we don’t get moving soon, we may be too late.