Competitive gaming is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Just a few years ago, the enterprise was struggling, with few viewers and a small purse and was often overshadowed by mainstream sports but a decade later, it’s one of the world’s most lucrative markets with viewers from every corner of the globe and finances to match main stream sports.
Traditional sports is still huge, events like the world cup, Super bowl and NBA finals still attract sell-out crowds, but Esports viewership and streaming figures not only rival those of soccer and basketball but are slowly surpassing them. An infographic made by the team at NJgames shows that Esports are attracting viewers in the millions and viewership is increasing with every passing event.
The whole enterprise has grown astonishingly since the turn of the century, with the last five years alone seeing audiences multiply by three from 134 million to over 350 million. Streaming services like YouTube and Twitch play a big part in viewership as they are used by viewers worldwide to view games like League of Legends, Fortnite, and Dota 2.
Although there is still debate on whether professional Esports players should be considered “athletes”, they are now being signed by sports franchises and forming gaming teams just like mainstream athletes. Football teams like Manchester City, Wolfsburg, and Paris Saint Germain have all invested in professional gamers and have built gaming teams to compete in global tournaments and make profit for the clubs similar to what traditional athletes do.
The popularity of Esports has seen the amount of money involved increase yearly. Professional gamers are now some of the highest paid athletes in the world and championships have budgets in hundreds of millions. The International Dota 2 Championships, for example, had a total prize pool of approximately $26 million, with the best gamers given astonishing cash prizes of $2 million and above.
Such figures are usually only heard of in mainstream sports, but with the amount of money involved in gaming still on the rise, it is no surprise that punters have taken betting to this corner of the sports industry as well. $5.5 billion were wagered on major Esports titles in 2016 and betting on virtual sports could well prove a smarter investment than wagering on their mainstream counterparts in the near future.
With talks of adding professional gaming to the Olympics and future championships set to break online viewing records, professional gaming is bringing a whole new dimension to the industry.
The entire sporting industry is changing before our very eyes. The rise of Esports has seen the enterprise grow from just another passive way of enjoying a gaming session, online gaming has turned into one of the world’s most lucrative enterprises.
Esports championships are now global events that attract crowds in the millions and from all over the world. The finances and streaming figures from Esports tournaments are slowly eclipsing those of mainstream sports like the NBA and NFL, and with viewership and finances still on the rise, Esports seems to be the future of the sporting industry.