Videogames have over the course of decades built themselves up from a niche hobby to the massive industry that they are today. In fact, just in 2019, the gaming market generated around $138.7 billion in revenue. This meteoric rise has led to widespread cultural knowledge about gaming, such that even the average person will have some idea of what the big games are. This growth doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon and along with it, there is a burgeoning space for a whole new mode of sports, known as esports. Basically, it's watching professional gamers duke it out in highly strategic and skill-intensive games. Here are 10 reasons why ESPN should take esports seriously and add them to their broadcast roster.
10. The Teams Have Character and Standout Personalities
A big part of the enjoyment of traditional sports is having a sense of loyalty to a specific team so that fans can root them on and get more personally invested in their victories and setbacks. Just because esports take place in a virtual space doesn't mean that there can't still be this sense of personal investment. There are notable teams, like Team Liquid and OG, and there are standout players, like Johan Sundstein, that give viewers someone or something to get behind.
9. The Games Are Fast-Paced and Strategic
Another appeal of standard sports is in the depth they provide. There are tons of strategies, ideas, and plays that go into each game. In general, there is a lot of room for thought and analysis of what makes a game go right or wrong. Esports also have these qualities in generous quantities. The games that are played tend to be highly strategic affairs that require a deep understanding of gameplay systems to excel, giving viewers a lot to enjoy.
8. There's Money Flowing Into Them
Just like there is money in videogames in general, there is also a lot of money flowing into the esports. The biggest tournaments in the scene have prize pools in the millions, with the biggest tournament, The International, offering more than $34 million in prizes in 2019 alone. The massive amounts of money and projected revenues play a role in keeping the wheels of the esports industry turning and provide a solid base on which future investments can be made.
7. It's a Growing Sector
This ties into the previous entry about the monetary power of the esports industry, but it is more holistically focused on the growth of the once niche sector. As competitive gaming further ingrains itself in the fabric of popular culture, viewership is expected to grow at a 9% compound annual growth rate from 2019 to 2023. In real numbers, this is an expected jump from 454 million to 646 million, meaning that interest in this industry will only continue to grow.
6. It's Relevant and Interesting for the New Generation
As a result of the massive spread of gaming as a whole, there are now more gamers than ever, particularly among the younger generation. Games like Fortnite can dominate and pull in hundreds of millions of players. What this means for sports broadcasters like ESPN is that the audience that can relate to and enjoy esports coverage is ever-growing and would let them tap into viewers that they never would've otherwise reached.
5. It Offers Unique Angles and Perspectives
A limitation of standard sports is that they take place in a physical space. This means that there needs to be allotted boundaries and restrictions on where camera people can move and shoot the event. This, however, does not apply to videogames where there are things like first-person views and invisible cameras that can move through walls. As a result, esports can provide unique viewing perspectives that would be impossible to get for a physical sport.
4. It's Fun to Watch
This quality alone is good enough reason for ESPN to start streaming esports. The pure snow-white truth is that these competitive gamers are very entertaining to watch. A single round of any popular game like Dota 2, or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, is chock-full of incredibly hype moments, co-ordinated team plays, fast-paced action, and sick headshots, supplemented by graphics and effects that can be appreciated by anyone.
3. There Are Big Tournaments in Place
Another reason that ESPN should bring esports to the big screen is that there is already so much existing infrastructure. There isn't a need to set-up tournaments or arrange complex events as there are already tons of tournaments that happen on a near-daily basis all around the world. There are also already dedicated gaming sportscasters who can provide a wealth of talent and experience in commentating on these esports events.
2. It Requires Talent
A lot of naysayers may argue that esports aren't real sports as they don't require a lot of physical exertion or skill. This is not even close to the truth. Considering how many millions of players are gamers, it takes a lot to rise above the rest and be a professional. The truth is there's a lot of talent, skill, and in-depth game knowledge and strategy required to be one of the best at these games.
1. There's Built-in Fans
Again appealing to the business-minded side of ESPN, there are already tons of fans who love these games. Specifically, players and viewers alike already exist in great quantity. There are those who already love watching esports that could provide a built-in base of viewers. And it is easy for anyone who has spent time with these big popular games to jump in and immediately feel at home with how these games work. All in all, there's a big base of interest already here that would be easy to tap into for a major broadcast player.
About the Author
Alice Chen is a freelance writer based out of the Toronto area. She's written for community newspapers, magazines, and websites, all the while enjoying every second of it. Now, she's on the path to honing her skills further and seeing where her writing can take her.
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