Esports, or Electronic Sports, is fast becoming a household name as the new star of the sports broadcasting and entertainment industry. Simply put, the term ‘eSports’ covers competitive gaming on a professional scale – with the Fortnite World Cup and the League of Legends World Championship series becoming some of the most anticipated events set to take place in 2020. In July of 2019, the Fortnite World Cup took place in a sold-out Arthur Ashe stadium with well over 2 million people watching live gameplay across the world. With news of the solo tournament winner Kyle Giersdorf taking home a cool $3M, eSports was catapulted even further into the mainstream – and became impossible to ignore.
The rise of online streaming platforms such as Twitch, YouTube and Mixer have become a central component in the foundations and subsequent promotion of professional gaming tournaments on a worldwide scale. Streaming platforms have worked wonders for the eSports industry, allowing accessibility and viewer engagement on an unrestricted, global level through online features such as Stream Chat.
Stream chats allow viewers to interact with other spectators, engaging in healthy (or not-so healthy) debates. It’s one of the main points of difference between Esports broadcasting and traditional sports broadcasting, like the Premier League. When you choose to watch an eSports stream, regardless of platform, you expect to see a stream chat. There’s a potential that the Streamer will acknowledge comments in this chat live on-stream, providing gratification for the viewers who look up to them. This engagement model can prove highly addictive, and you’ll often discover communities that have been established under a creator or a specific game and fans with a strong sense of belonging that doesn’t come with most forms of traditional sports broadcasting.
Furthermore, streamers looking to ride the wave of the eSports industry face relatively little resistance in doing so. Streaming setups require nothing more than a webcam, a microphone and screen recording software. Then, there’s the matter of choosing which platform/s to stream on. Those who truly dedicate themselves to the art of eSports streaming can become Twitch Partners – receiving special recognition and promotion from Twitch, who were acquired by Amazon for $970m in 2014. Such status encourages beginners and advanced players alike to take eSports streaming seriously, building followings and gaining sponsorship opportunities along the way.
In 2020, we can expect to see eSports breaking down even more boundaries. Newzoo predicts that global eSports revenues will exceed the $1.6 billion mark in 2021. Merchandise, sponsorships and team salaries will all be interesting developments to follow as spectators invest more and more into the phenomenon that is eSports broadcasting. Consumers have the choice to choose between limitless catalogues of streamers, playing almost infinite types of games, on a handful of different platforms. This choice will only be expanded upon in 2020, with the potential for more platforms and more games incorporating eSports elements into their development processes. With the PS5 and Xbox X scheduled to drop this year, how do you think the new generation of consoles will affect eSports?