Esports has become a billion-dollar business reaching mainstream audiences more and more. Their popularity and viewership is growing while the traditional sports leagues like the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL try to hold on to an ever shrinking pie.
A big reason is that Esports rely on streaming at the core of their business model to reach their audience while traditional sports are still mostly associated with broadcast TV. But they are paying attention, as we can see by the NFL in recent years broadcasting games on Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter.
That is a huge competitive edge for an industry at a time when more and more people, especially younger consumers of sports and media are cutting the cord with cable entirely. These “cord cutters” don’t want to consume less, if anything their appetite is voracious, they just want to be in control of the experience and spend money only on the things they want to watch.
As such it should be no surprise that even the almighty NFL saw a 10-year low in its Super Bowl ratings this year, even though it featured two of the marquee teams in two of the largest media markets, Boston and Los Angeles. It’s even worse for MLB where the 2018 World Series ratings were down 23% from the year before, even though two of their biggest franchises -Boston and Los Angeles also played in the finals.
Streaming as the core way people watch events is no longer the future, it is the present and as technology makes the experience even more engaging, in ways cable could only dream, that is only going to become more and more evident.
Right now, the YouTube gaming platform reports that its viewers collectively spent more than 50 billion hours watching Esports last year. They are hooked and watching live videos of their cherished gamers is just one of the reasons why. It is the interactive component which lets audiences connect with the gamers -as well as fellow fans- that is a huge part of engagement process. Gaming fans can even send virtual money to their favorite gamers at this point in appreciation of a job well done.
Imagine being able to watch a Dallas Cowboys game and being made to feel like you’re with your buddies in a virtual living room that spans across the globe. You’re able to talk smack and place real-time bets on what you think is going to happen on the very next play.
Meanwhile instead of cutting away from the field for a commercial break for some product you have no interest in, a banner “flies” over the field for exactly the item you were just Googling before you started watching.
That is already the pulse that the Esports industry has its finger on that is going to get better and better as improvements in technology and sports betting laws allow for. And it is something that traditional sports leagues are now scrambling to follow.