It’s safe to say that esports is no longer a well kept secret. The phenomenon that started with competitors playing through their sheer love for a game for a potential prize of a headset has developed into far more. Thousands flood to arenas and hundreds of thousands more watch online as their favourite teams compete in various compelling titles for millions of dollars.
Paul “Redeye” Chaloner, the co-owner of Code Red Esports collated the traditional sports teams who have already become involved in the burgeoning esports industry. According to Paul’s spreadsheet, 179 clubs to date have entered esports in some shape or form. Clubs range from Irish football club Shamrock Rovers all the way through to some of the biggest names in sport such as Miami Heat and the New England Patriots.
“As brands find it increasingly tough to target the coveted millennial audience, esports presents a very different opportunity”
Esports Insider have arranged an ESI Super Forum at Stamford Bridge on March 22nd looking at the convergence of esports and traditional sports. The event will see 25 plus industry leading speakers, 10 to 15 exhibitors and 250 attendees grace the home of the English champions for a day of learning, networking, discussion and frivolity as we consider exactly what the opportunity is for sports clubs and stakeholders entering the esports space, and indeed vice versa.
A recently published SuperData report outlines the industry is now worth $1.5 billion and whilst it may still be dwarfed by the traditional sports world – it’s no surprise that this group has its eyes firmly set on esports. A report earlier this year from Sports Business Journal stated that for US sports, the average age of television viewers ranges from 40 at youngest to 64 at oldest. The trend across the industry since 2000 is that sports viewers are getting older. The average age, according to the study of an NFL viewer is 50; an MLB viewer 57 and an NBA viewer 42. With this in mind it’s no surprise that the NBA has launched the NBA 2K League which’ll see 17 of the league’s 30 club take part in the inaugural season from early 2018.
We also have racing esports coming into its own with the F1 esports series finale seeing over 20.5 million impressions, and the World’s Fastest Gamer proving popular to boot. We recently looked at the rise of racing esports’ and its potential here. In short, there are already plenty of stakeholders from across the traditional sports sphere looking at esports and making things happen.
“Entering esports by way of signing a FIFA player is significantly different to spending up to $20 million on a franchise slot in the Overwatch League”
Esports presents a very different proposition. Anyone that suggests esports has overtaken top tier sports in viewership is not telling the truth but as brands find it increasingly tough to target the coveted millennial audience, esports presents a very different opportunity. According to Newzoo data, only 27% of esports fans are above the age of 35, compared to 56% in American football. Whilst overlap does exist, esports enthusiasts present a very different audience to traditional sports fans.
There are still very different approaches being taken by organisations across the world. The bulk of the 179 are still minor investments. Entering esports by way of signing a FIFA player is significantly different to spending up to $20 million on a franchise slot in the Overwatch League or the North American League of Legends Championship Series.
“It’s vital for sports teams and stakeholders to outline what they want to achieve before plunging into what’s largely an alien world”
In Europe we’ve seen Paris Saint-Germain, F.C. Copenhagen and Schalke 04 amongst others push the boat out and dabble in a little more than FIFA. Copenhagen haven’t integrated their Counter-Strike team with the brand, instead opting for a separate entity in itself in the form of North. Schalke 04 hold their esports team under the Schalke name, just adding an esports tag.
All of the above just goes to show that esports is more than just a buzzword. Equally, it’s vital for sports teams and stakeholders to outline what they want to achieve before plunging into what’s largely an alien world. FIFA is largely seen as the easy way in – but does it achieve the most engagement? Is a large investment into the likes of League of Legends, Dota 2 or Counter-Strike a worthwhile investment?
The Esports Insider Super Forum takes place at Stamford Bridge on the 22nd March and will bring together industry leaders from both the esports and sports world who will dissect the current state of play and advise on how they think the future looks for the convergence of the two industries. The event is being run alongside SBC’s Betting on Football conference meaning a good deal of top football clubs from across Europe and stakeholders from this world will be a part of its 1,500 strong attendee list and have access to the Super Forum.
Sam Cooke, Editor of Esports Insider said: “We’re delighted to be putting on a fantastic day of content and business opportunities at the first Esports Insider Super Forum. Building on our successful smaller ESI Forum Series events at Fnatic’s Bunkr last year, we’re going all out in March at Stamford Bridge bringing together industry leaders to share knowledge in a space that continues to intrigue”.
The ESI Super Forum is a one day conference at Stamford Bridge in London and is focused on the convergence of sports and esports. It’ll feature six panel sessions with additional workshops, plenty of networking, an esports exhibition zone and ample fun and games to boot.
For those interested in sponsorship and exhibition opportunities please contact [email protected]