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The Business of eSports: 3 Things You need to Know

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On 25th August 2019, eSports history was made. After a hair-raising final, five-person team ‘OG’ won the Dota 2 World Championship, becoming the only team to win the event twice and raking in the biggest first-place prize in gaming history, a whopping $15,520,181. 

Earlier that year, Kyle ‘Bugha’ Giersdorf received over $3,000,000 after claiming the Fortnite World Cup, the single largest payout for any individual eSport. That’s more than Tiger Woods earned at the Masters or that Novak Djokovic netted at Wimbledon. 

If you’re in any doubt about the explosive growth of eSports, these figures should make you pause. eSports is a global, billion-dollar industry. With this growth, a raft of sports careers opened. Here are the main points you need to know. 

What Are eSports?

In a nutshell, eSports are any form of professional competitive video gaming. Players compete against each other in teams or one-on-one. Dota 2, Fortnite and League of Legends are among the most popular eSports in terms of player numbers and total prize money. 

Similar to many traditional sports, players climb leaderboards and eventually compete in stadium finals, many of which draw tens of thousands of spectators. While players understandably receive the most attention, many people come together to make eSports possible, including event organizers, journalists, hosts, coaches and, of course, the fans.

1. eSports Is Expected to Become a $1.8 Billion Dollar Industry by 2022

The eSports industry is expected to be worth $1.8 billion dollars by the end of 2022. And that’s a conservative estimate. Revenue in 2019 will be around $1.1 billion dollars, representing growth of nearly 30% compared to the previous year. The bulk of this revenue will come from broadcasting rights, sponsorship, and advertising. 

esports sponsorship

Brands unrelated to gaming – often called ‘non-endemic’ brands – will likely drive significant growth in the coming years. As eSports gain recognition with a broader audience, more companies are taking advantage of the advertising and sponsorship opportunities available. 

2. eSports Viewing Figures Are Booming

In conjunction with revenue growth, viewing figures are also booming at an astonishing rate, with nearly half a billion viewers in 2019. This trend has been driven by a mix of factors, including an expanding band of loyal fans for specific games and tournaments and online watching habits that aren’t restrained by traditional broadcasting channels. 

Several major networks have already signed big deals for media rights. In 2018, for example, ESPN announced a partnership with Riot Games to broadcast League of Legends. Fox News has also acquired exclusive rights to show all FIFA games.

3. eSports Gamers Are Among the World’s Premier Athletes

Professional gamers are among the best-paid and most highly trained sportspeople in the world. They require daily access to personal trainers, sports psychologists, nutritionists, and more. 

The physical toll of a single gaming session can be equivalent to running a marathon. It’s been reported that players produce a similar amount of cortisol to racecar drivers and experience a similar heart-rate to that of a long-distance runner. 

Are You Considering a Career In the eSports Industry?

As often happens with new industries, confusion and misunderstanding abound when it comes to professional gaming. You don’t need to be an ultra-devoted League of Legends player or a hardcore Fortnite fan to forge a successful career in eSports.

Rapid growth, combined with high earning potential, means opportunities are abundant. Esports Insider reports that the number of job openings increased by 185% in the first half of 2019. 

If you’re considering a career in eSports, take a look at the BA in Sports Management and the MBA in Sports Management, both of which cover the sports and business aspects of this burgeoning industry in depth. 

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