More evidence that the eSports business is on a massive roll: The mainstream media keeps paying attention.
The latest entry comes from the venerable Sports Illustrated, which still boasts excellent writing and reporting. While those of us who follow the eSports business won’t be surprised by the report, it is an excellent primer for the non-indoctrinated.
Reports SI: “The nation’s fastest-growing sport isn’t soccer or mixed martial arts. It’s not rugby or lacrosse. It might not even be a sport at all.”
“Competitive video gaming, or e-sports, has exploded in the U.S. over the last five years as advances in technology have made the games better and the world smaller. Newzoo, a market research firm, estimates that 93 million Americans are active in sports, but more than twice as many—194 million—regularly play video games. That’s 61% of the population. (If that seems high, consider that Candy Crush counts.) Gaming is a $22 billion-a-year industry, and it crosses boundaries: Plenty of enthusiasts have no interest in traditional sports, but Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch plays Call of Duty daily (he’s even a character in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3), and the Kansas City Royals spent more time last season playing Clash of Clans than watching film or taking extra BP. Just as many gamers are over age 50 as are under 18. Most of them play recreationally, but the kid you picked on in high school can now make upward of $1 million a year—in salary, prize money and sponsorship and advertising revenue—as a professional gamer.”
The piece continues: “The viewership is there: More fans (27 million worldwide) watched—online—the 2014 League of Legends world championship final between South Korea’s Samsung Galaxy White team and China’s Star Horn Royal Club than saw the clinching games of last year’s World Series (23.5 million), NBA Finals (17.9 million) or Stanley Cup finals (six million). Twitch.tv, the streaming-video site that Amazon bought last year for $970 million and that is the home of most game feeds, has more video traffic than WWE.com, MLB.com and ESPN.com combined.”
“If you’re surprised that video games are a spectator sport, you’re not alone. But Riot Games, the company that makes League of Legends, secured L.A.’s Staples Center for its 2013 world championship final—the culmination of a 16-team monthlong tournament that is structured like soccer’s World Cup—and sold out its 10,000 seats in less than an hour. The next year’s world championship final would fill the 40,000-seat Seoul World Cup stadium.”