Are eSports Set To Take Over Traditional Sports?
A recent survey conducted by Limelight revealed that more young men now prefer to watch esports than traditional sports, with esports being their second most preferred media source, only behind movies. The recent downturn in the viewership of major sporting championships such as the NFL, Premier League, and the Winter Olympics has backed up the view that the popularity of traditional sports may be on the decline.
Major brands have begun to take notice of the growth of esports, with tech and media companies alike starting to invest in this new industry. In 2015, Amazon announced that it had successfully acquired Twitch for $970m and has promoted esports as the main stable of its platform ever since. Around 11bn hours will be spent by fans watching esports, with more than 70m enthusiasts watching major finals through online streaming platforms such as Twitch. That’s more than the MLB and NBA finals.
Esports is not only proving to be profitable for brands, but gamers themselves are also making large returns in their sports. When comparing DOTA 2 gamers, to UFC fighters (a sport that grew in popularity around the same time); gamers dominate the list when it comes to average yearly earnings. The gamer Miracle, who is only second on the list behind Conor McGregor, earns just over $1m per year since he began his journey in esports. There are 8 professional gamers who have earned an average of over $600,000 per year since they began in the sport, with only 2 fighters in the UFC earning this same amount.
Betway has found that not only is the overall revenue of esports already substantial when compared to other traditional sporting organizations, but the same can also be said for prize pools on offer to competitors. The recent Dota 2: The International 2017 event boasted an overall prize pool of $17.5m, making it the highest ever offered in the history of esports. Although the trend of impressive prize money on offer to professional gamers is set to rise as the sport becomes more popular; the prize pool figure of $17.5m already far outweighs the combined prize pool of other major sporting events, such as the Tour de France, Cricket World Cup, and The Open.
Does this mean that the next generation of sports fans will dream of being behind a controller, or out on the pitch? Only time will tell.