It wasn’t so long ago that people would provide a quizzical stare when presented the concept of eSports as an industry and an even shorter time since people would laugh at the thought of eSports becoming big business with a huge following. Now, adding to the list of new generational tastes and trends that bucked the naysayers of older generations, eSporting continues to crystallize itself as a huge opportunity for both entertainment and commerce. Turner Broadcasting and major entertainment/sports agency, WME/IMG have announced their ELeague and 30 weekly hours of coverage that will be coming with it on a grand scale.
For those who don’t know about eSports, it has been brewing for a few years – where video game players (both single and team) compete against each other in leagues and championships with the action streaming much in the same way we’re used to seeing other professional sports around the world. Here’s the huge opportunity — as FIFA benefits from the accessibility of Football/Soccer to make it’s sport the largest in the world, the same could be said for video games and the leagues that have formed to support them. The players you see in these leagues are the cream of the crop, but the opportunity is attainable with hard work – and these teams work hard.
Just looking at Riot Games’ LEAGUE OF LEGENDS, their competitive teams are able to focus on practice and competing 24/7 with strong sponsorship packages. Their championships sell out around the world and the demand continues to grow.
Now that the first regular linear presentation of these sports is arriving on Turner in 2016, the opportunity for growth is even stronger. What is key though – for the strength of the leagues and their competitors – is that the production is treated as strongly as those of the recognized major sports. There is no excuse not to. And, with the opportunity to highlight players that are more like the every-man through solid content development and storytelling, there is every possibility that strong competitors/personalities will be able to reach fans and consumers in ways that not even our present top athletes can.
Hopefully, the sneers and jeers will be muted early enough to allow for enough talented people to get in on something special before the opportunity passes them by.