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Esports: A New Game for Sports Marketing

If your hobby could make you a millionaire, would you still follow the age-old adage that work and hobbies should be kept separate?

Probably not. And neither are the millions of esports participants around the world who have decided to turn their passion for videogames into a livelihood, or at least a form of secondary income.

With prizes at the highest level reaching into the millions, skilled gamers are eager to compete. Combine the intense atmosphere with the impressive stakes, and esports has also developed into a thriving spectator sport. In 2016, the sport grossed an estimated $493 million, and revenue of approximately $1233 million is projected for 2020. This is an impressive increase of more than 51 percent from 2015.

See for yourself:

From a sports marketing perspective, the rapid growth and popularity of esports is a dream come true because it opens up a brand new realm of sponsorship and advertising opportunities among a demographic that wasn’t previously represented within the world of sports. This is a mutually beneficial deal, as it’s estimated that 71 percent of the industry’s worth is due to advertising and sponsorship. That’s a significant percentage, especially when compared to other professional sports, such as the NBA, whose 2015-2016 revenue amounted to 4.8 billion, yet only 17 percent was from sponsorship. Esports partnerships include well-known names, such as Red Bull and even the NBA, each eager to stake their claim on the best teams and extend their reach within the sports industry, while also entering the new sectors that accompany the gaming world.

Aside from team partnerships, another great marketing advantage of esports is the advertising access companies are gaining to new platforms. The predominantly younger demographic that participates in the sport uses live-streaming services that traditional athletics don’t have a use for. This allows companies to reach a wider, interactive, audience with their products and services.

Cable companies are also taking note of the increasing popularity of esports, as companies, such as Turner Broadcasting, are testing the sport’s popularity on its digital platforms, with a pleasing response of impressive viewership.

With its rapid growth, experts project the next logical step for esports is expansion into virtual reality, as participants and viewers are looking for the most enhanced experience. A partnership between and ESL sports made the VR experience possible for the first time this year.

From individual and group play, to live streaming, to tournaments in sold-out arenas, and, most recently, the ultimate VR experience, videogames are a far-cry from the Nintendo 64 of the past. Technical advances have broken down industry barriers and created the most unlikely of partnerships, and the benefits continue to increase for all parties involved. The rapid growth is exciting, and it leaves one wondering where the industry will take us next.

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