Esports has been around for quite some time. The popularity of playing video games has led to the professional side of the industry. That came to light earlier this year with the coronavirus pandemic. Traditional sports were shutdown in mid-March to create a much bigger stage for competitive eSports.
Fans and bettors are heading into a new NFL season. This is in the midst of play in MLB, NBA and NHL. Right now, there is no shortage of sports action to follow or bet on. Where does this leave esports as far as recent inroads into mainstream sports?
Sam Matthews is the founder and CEO of Fnatic. This is a professional esports organization that is headquartered in London. The company was founded in 2004 and it fields teams across a variety of esports competitions.
Posted on www.forbes.com, Matthews believes that esports is still growing exponentially right now. He believes it is still being aided by the effects of the coronavirus on society. Earlier this year, his company initiated a report covering the impact of COVID-19 in relation to esports.
One of the biggest effects was the rapid growth of Twitch viewership. This is an online streaming site specializing in video gaming. This took place during the initial months of the lockdown. The report also pointed out the tremendous growth in the popularity of the video game Valorant.
“Our biggest takeaway from capturing and analyzing industry data was that esports is growing exponentially. And traditional entertainment and sports organizations have taken notice of the successful esports model. While the esports model has always had the keys to success with a continued rise in prominence with a larger global audience, the pandemic accelerated the awareness of the phenomenon.”
Matthews elaborated on that statement with the following comments:
“The pandemic highlighted the importance of digital streaming platforms and traditional broadcasters followed suit, reproducing the successful esports model. With broadcasters on board, we anticipate seeing the line of distinction between traditional sports, entertainment and esports continue to blur.”
The world of traditional sports did blend somewhat with the esports world back in early spring. Simulation games for all the major US sports leagues took place. A certain amount of outside influence sparked this growth in the absence of entertainment events. As far as sports betting, at times esports competitions were the only thing on the board at big online Sportsbook.
Two examples given were international soccer leagues and the NBA. Esports also duplicated simulation games in the NFL and MLB.
They all combined to boost industry revenues. The other big increase in esports was tournament viewership.