Due to the lockdown that was put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, stadiums have remained empty, and sporting matches have been postponed. This is why esports is trying to fill the void with fans as they turn from traditional sports to gaming.
Esports has gained attention in recent years because of its record-breaking audiences and interest from advertisers. So far, esports has been able to offer unprecedented opportunities for broadcasters. Now that audiences have begun to look for entertainment during the lockdown and Esports has become the answer.
According to predictions, esports revenues will grow to about $1.1 billion this year as opposed its $950.6 million in 2019. Its audience will also grow to about 495 million people in 2020, which is a year-on-year growth of 11.7%.
1. Boosting Broadcasting
The increase in competitive video gaming has lit a spark amongst international broadcasting companies as companies like IBC and NAB have begun to dedicated space for esports feature areas at their respective events.
The broadcasting industry that is already making billions of dollars yearly will only gain further traction during this lockdown caused by the global pandemic due to the eyeballs that need occupying.
However, the challenge that broadcasters are facing now is the hole that live sports events have left in their schedule. This is why they are looking into filling their schedule with esports events.
According to the vice president of the digital programming of ESPN, they have lost a big chunk of what will normally be their programming schedule. Hence, they have to start thinking creatively on what they will be putting on linear television.
Therefore, the popular UK broadcasters BBC and Sky have both turned to esports to continue entertaining their audience during this lockdown. Sometimes last month, Sky Sports viewers have aired the semi-finals and finals of a new online football tournament that included A-list players including Raheem Sterling and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
2. Vendors dedicated to eSports.
Late last month Extreme Networks launched a system-wide esports tournament in the State University of New York (SUNY) to help to support students. Extreme Networks is a cloud-driven networking company that offered a $20,000 prize pool for the tournament.
The tournament was aimed at fostering a competitive virtual event with the added advantage of raising money for the Covid-19 relief efforts. Colleges put forward their teams to compete in several esports tournaments.
Also, Activision Blizzard, in conjunction with Sony Mobile Communications Inc, announced the Call of Duty: Mobile World Championship 2020 Tournament that would kick off on the 30th of April.
The competition was designed to feature players ranked veteran or higher in a multiplayer game competing to win cash prizes and Call of Duty: Mobile esports cosmetics. The tournament, which is being sponsored by Sony Mobile, is said to feature more than $1 million in total prizes.
3. New audiences and distribution
Similarly, because of the lockdown, there is a boost in the viewing of game streaming sites. This is because there are more young audiences stuck at home due to school closures using the platforms.
Also, the line between traditional sports and esports has begun to blur as even leagues and federations are attempting to draw younger generations to their product using games. Plus, esports has also started to pitch the official Olympic committee to recognize esports as a sport in the Paris 2024 games.