Could esports fill the sporting calendar void?

posted on Friday, 20th March 2020 by Steve May

Broadcast  Streaming  Esports 

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As the traditional sporting calendar contends with cancellations and postponements across the board, and large social gatherings indoors and out discouraged, could esports fill the competitive void?

Market analyst Futuresource suggests the growth potential of esports suggests that parity of viewership between traditional sports and popular esports tournaments isn't that far away.

Traditional sports teams from across Europe’s football leagues, as well as the NBA, fielding teams for digital tournaments, this isn’t as far fetched as it might seem. 

Currently, the most popular esports are football, basketball and racing.  Competitive gaming is also a boom area. Futuresource estimates the sports ecosystem was worth  $923 million in 2019. 

"Norwegian broadcaster TV 2 Norway has recently secured rights to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive series BLAST Premier..."


The FIFA eWorld Cup prize pool was $500,000 in 2019, but this was dwarfed by the Fortnite World Cup, which was worth $100 million over the 2019 season. 

These tournaments already draw huge online audiences. The 2020 IEM Katowice CSGO Grand Final (pictured) enjoyed a peak online audience of over 1 million. 

Esports is widely seen as a way of winning fan engagement for teams, and could even sate future demand for fresh programming if the covid-19 outbreak persists.  

Norwegian broadcaster TV 2 Norway has recently secured rights to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive series BLAST Premier. Speaking about the deal, Jansen Hagen, Editor in Chief for TV 2 Sports, commented: “Esports has come a really long way and BLAST is a prime example of that. TV 2 has more than 25 years of experience as humble custodians of the Norwegian peoples’ passion for sports, and we aim to do the same for esports.”

Meanwhile, RuHub has acquired the Russian broadcasting rights to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league FLASHPOINT. FLASHPOINT recently cancelled plans to host the playoffs in Stockholm, choosing instead to host the entire competition in its Los Angeles studio, with a total prize pool of $1 million.

Ultimately, the big winners in this would seem to be Twitch (owned by Amazon), YouTube Gaming and Microsoft’s Mixer, says Futuresource. Twitch saw a 12 per cent year-on-year increase in March 2019, many of which are paying subscribers. 

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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