Read Sports & Esports: The Competitive Dream Team, an Esports BAR special report, and it will be easy to understand the comparisons made between traditional physical sports and esports.
The word esports, after all, is an abbreviation for electronic sports, as the heated competitions that take place among video gamers is called.
What Sports & Esports: The Competitive Dream Team also verifies is the Olympic-sized influence legacy physical sports have had on the esports evolution as a professional competitive activity.
The traditional sports-and-esports crossover has been inevitable for several other reasons.
Many popular video games are simulated versions of professional sports: think of basketball (Take-Two Interactive’s NBA 2K); international soccer (EA’s FIFA); American football (EA’s Madden NFL); motor racing (Grand Theft Auto from Rockstar Games).
Meanwhile, major sports organisations have entered the esports fray and elected to operate their own competitive-gaming organisations. In Europe, they include the English Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga and top-tier French football team Paris Saint-Germain.
In the US, they include the National Basketball Association, (NBA) the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Hockey League (NHL).
Internationally, Formula 1 motor racing and even Grand Slam tennis in the form of the French Open, which takes place at the Roland-Garros stadium in Paris, have esports interests.
The increasingly intertwined worlds of physical sports and digital esports have even reached the corridors of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has been mulling over whether to include esports as a medal event.
A decision has yet to be finalised, but in the meantime esports has been participating in the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 and at PyeongChang in 2018 as exhibition events. It was even a medal event at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.
Whatever the IOC’s decision will be, esports remains a winner in its own right. The US$1bn revenue expected to be generated by professional esports globally this year, as predicted by Newzoo, is colossal for a niche form of entertainment that was still a haven for hobbyists just over a decade.
Its income is dwarfed by the behemoth physical-sports business, which is estimated to be worth between US$500bn and US$700bn worldwide by various analysts.
But the competitive culture in the spectator entertainment they both offer has fused the two sectors.
- The impact of professional physical sports can be seen in the franchised-league structure adopted by Activision Blizzard’s groundbreaking Overwatch League. The industry now talks of esports players, esports teams, esports franchises, esports leagues.
- The excitement and commotion experienced at esports tournaments among its mostly Millennials and Gen Z fans matches the devotion of spectators at the NFL’s Super Bowl, a FIFA World Cup football tournament or a Formula 1 Grand Prix race.
Moreover, the value of the media rights for esports competitions and entertainment on streaming platforms and TV networks is blowing up.
The Amazon-owned Twitch, Google’s YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming as well as linear TV broadcasters like ESPN and the UK’s BBC have been bidding for the rights to air the best in esports online and on air.
And the sports business of old craves the esports sector’s ability to use streaming services, analytics platforms, social-media and other high tech to form a bond with one of the most coveted audience demographics – today’s digitally shrewd consumers.
Sports & Esports: The Competitive Dream Team examines the developments and trends within these two symbiotic competitive-entertainment cultures. In addition to the report’s in-depth analysis, it highlights a list of the big sports organisations, the sport-industry tycoons and high-profile athletes that have invested in esports.
The Sports & Esports: The Competitive Dream Team White Paper is just the beginning of what is going to be Esports BAR’s ongoing scrutiny of both sectors.