I didn’t truly understand how big eSports has become until I saw a talk at SXSW this year by one of the top execs at the company that runs some of the largest stadiums in the US. In his talk he said that as a company, they are starting to tweak their strategy to move from building stadiums that are made to support athletic sports like football, baseball, and basketball to support the growth of eSports and the changes that need to be made to make a stadium eSports ready.
The picture that you see above is from an eSports competition, and yes, those are all screaming fans cheering for their favorite team exactly like most people have for the last 100+ years for their favorite traditional sports team. If you think this is a fad, it’s not, it’s actually a trend, and a growing one with the next generation of sports fans.
eSports — basically video-game competitions — came in second only to movie watching among the demographic’s most popular modes of online video consumption. It beat TV shows, news, and traditional sports. (Source – Business Insider)
Yes, you read that right. This study applies to you men between the age of 18 – 25 and they like watching eSports more than any traditional sport, Netflix series, or news program, the only thing they like more than eSports. There’s a growing divide and just like your average 22 year-old sees Facebook as the social media network for their parents, football is also starting to be seen more and more as a traditional sport, watched by an older generation.
Of course, I know just writing this is going to be controversial and I’m likely going to get comments saying that I’m crazy and this is just a fad, and football and baseball and basketball are here to stay. And you’d be right, traditional sports aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. That being said, twenty years from now you’re going to be the crazy one for not seeing how big eSports really is.
If you want to really understand the eSports landscape, read this article on Medium – honestly it might just blow your mind and at the very least it will show you how serious all of this is and how strikingly similar many of the facets of eSports resemble traditional sports. Fans are fanatical about their favorite players, merchandise sales produce meaningful revenue, and yes – coaches can make a big difference, and yes, they can also get fired if their teams perform poorly.
So I encourage you to scroll up at this point, to the image at the top of my post. What you see there isn’t a one-time thing, a blip in the radar. It is what a very typical sporting event will look like within the next decade. As someone who isn’t a huge traditional sports fan, but is a big eSports fan I can tell you I am really looking forward to this future. Are you?