eSports are becoming more and more popular around the world, events fill up huge arenas and the prize money is already up into the millions. In the US, it is one of the fastest growing past-times.
It all started as a hobby for nerds, now competitive gamers have taken eSports by storm. The number of viewers in the arenas and through internet live-streams keeps on growing, with the US market now taking a greater interest in eSports. According to the US market research company Nielsen Media Research, 14 percent of Americans aged 13 and older are "avid fans" of eSports. The number almost doubled from last year’s 8 percent.
eSports fans spend about four hours per week playing games and a large majority of them are men. According to the study, 77 percent of gamers are male and 61 percent of them belong to the millennial generation (born between roughly 1980 and 1999).
The study also found that 71 percent of eSports fans stream events online, 40 percent have viewed an event on TV and 23 percent have attended an event in person. Recently the Philadephia 76ers NBA basketball became the first North American professional sports team to venture into the eSports area. The club purchased an eSports organization acquiring both Team Dignitas and Apex Gaming. The Philadelphia 76ers say they intend to run day-to-day operations and provide infrastructure support.
European sports clubs, including Schalke in Germany, have made similar moves of late.
Almost 300 million viewers
According to the US video game giant Activision Blizzard, about 292 million people will have watched and followed eSports events at the end of this year, with that number expected to grow to 427 million people over the coming three years.
Activision, with over 20 million users, announced the creation of a new league of its own with competitive play of team-based shooter game "Overwatch." The goal is to build professional stars and garner greater prominence for eSports. “We want the players to have that kind of recognition for their achievements, and also financial rewards,” said Activision Blizzard chief executive Bobby Kotick.