A recent study from Limelight Networks shows that men aged 18-25 prefer to watch eSports over other, more conventional sports.
In the last few decades, eSports have become a major industry competing with traditional sports such as basketball or football. The Season 3 World Championship of League of Legends in 2014 gathered 32 million viewers, exceedingly more than the World Series or NCAA Final Four that year. The winners of The International (a tournament for Dota 2) won a combined $11 million this summer, whereas Tom Brady made a mere $183,000 for winning the Super Bowl. The International Olympic Committee even flirted with the idea of including eSports as an event in the Olympic Games to increase their appeal to millennials.
What does this mean for the future of sports? Well, technology such as virtual reality is already making its way into football as a way to help with training. But is adding a few cool pieces of tech enough to help traditional sports compete with eSports in the eyes of millennials?
One thing that makes eSports so appealing is the fact that one can watch at any time without paying. While traditional sports require a cable package or a subscription to view, eSports are streamed online through avenues such as Twitch or YouTube for free. From the business perspective, it is much cheaper to utilize eSports as a method of advertisement (through sponsorship, tournaments, streaming services, and the like) than it is traditional sports. Money spent on advertising and sponsorship is predicted to nearly double over the next two years.
Some traditional sport teams are beginning to recognize the value and potential of eSports and are taking advantage of the huge, yet youthful market; the 76ers bought the teams Dignitas and Apex. CEO Scott O’Neil of the 76ers said, “There’s no denying the fact that eSports presents corporate America with a way to reach millennials in a way stick and ball sports just [can’t].”
The eSports industry is growing rapidly and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Traditional sports will need to find a way to deal with the threat that eSports pose, lest the eSports industry rob traditional sports of the entirety of the millennial male market.