The latest sports phenomenon that may hit the global airwaves in 2017 or 2018 won’t be the Olympics or the NBA or Major League Baseball. In fact, this sport won’t feature players with abs and intensive physical training. That’s because the players are more akin to the average looking Joe and Jane out there since we’re talking about e-sports or competitive video gaming.
E-sports or video gaming has the potential for a huge windfall for both players and sponsors. Corporations are planning to pour in as much as $325 million on sponsorships and marketing of e-sports for this year and into 2017. This is because more than 90% of the target audience for e-sports are millennials and younger.
The real money up for grabs here also is how tech companies can successfully bring e-sports to a global audience using mainstream media format. At present, most e-sports competitions are broadcast through the internet or very limited cable TV exposure. It is estimated that should the mainstream media be broken into it can generate an estimated $1.9 billion in revenue by 2018.
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The challenge with video games is that they were created solely for the eyes of the players, rather than spectators. It is hoped that this problem can be solved by enabling developers to control camera angles during live-streamed games, the same way editing booths are utilized for major sporting events.
This would create angles for better compelling narratives with storytelling and emotions, again similar to sports commentators during games. This will thus become more appealing to viewers, advertisers, and sponsors. So far, only two companies are experimenting on broadcasting platforms.
Twitch, presently the leading e-sports online streaming broadcaster, uses only a single camera perspective. It’s like watching a Major League Baseball game from the viewpoint of a GoPro camera strapped on a single player’s back. In spite of this, Twitch reaches over 45 million viewers a month. Another player, Genvid, will soon be using the multi-camera angles and hopes to break into the media mainstream.
Cable TV isn’t about to be left behind on this. Just last year ESPN began successful beta testing on e-sports competitions. Last June they became the first sports newscaster to dedicate an entire issue to e-sports. In fact, this coverage garnered an estimated 1.1 million page views – perhaps even more – on ESPN.com.
Last year the outfit televised an entire live competition of Heroes of the Dorm. Probably the biggest catch that large tech companies and TV channels plan to jump on at the global scale was caught by the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF). In February of this year the federation took steps to be recognized by the International Olympic Committee, following in the footsteps of the recognition of dance sports in the Olympics.
In April, the IOC approved the necessary steps needed by the IeSF to be approved. It may not be long before e-sports may be officially recognized worldwide as a major competitive sport with its own media coverage, recognized top players, sponsors, and endorsers. Perhaps parents need to think twice now before shouting at their kids to stop playing video games and go outside to play.