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 COVID-19 pandemic has relegated live sports from the top of the podium as the most watched and lucrative part of TV schedules. At the same time, the enforced social distancing, school closures and home working has prompted audiences across all age groups to spend more time on video on demand, social media and, in a big way, gaming. As a result, new types of competitive electronic sports are gaining participants and, more importantly for TV, viewership. From drone racing to battle robots, the rise of alternative sports is blossoming. By far the most popular is video gaming esports, with 450+ million viewers globally – and figures show its following growing rapidly as it has emerged as the main live alternative to physical sports during the coronavirus crisis.