eSports have been around since the 90s, but it wasn’t until recently that they took off and eclipsed some traditional sporting events in terms of viewership. The most recent League of Legends World Championship garnered 32 million viewers world wide. This type of viewership has put it among the ranks of the World Series, the NBA Championship, and the BCS title game. eSports have gained enormous worldwide acclaim and organizations states side are taking notice.
Both the United States government and academic institutions have hopped onboard the eSports bandwagon. Now professional gamers from around the world are being granted work visas similar to professional athletes to compete on American soil and even Robert Morris University has fielded a varsity team to compete in competitions for thousands of dollars in scholarship winnings. It’s a logical decision for the US government to grant work visas to gamers since their winnings are now taxable income, but the universities are making great strides in creating social equality between gamers and the traditional athlete. Additionally, the implications of this widespread support for eSports extends to the world of business.
Companies such as Coca-Cola and Intel are integrating advertisements in online games to connect with male gamers, between the ages of 21-35 on their home turf. These advertisements offer a much more concentrated strategy, as opposed to advertising in traditional media or even through paid ads on search engines. Gamers generally spend a little over two hour per session and practice their skills around 20 days a month. Aside from the actual gamers themselves, there are the viewers of championship events. As recently as 2012, four 2012 MLG Pro Circuit Championship events online, generated over 11 million unique viewers. That’s more than the average audience for baseball game!
The big names of the media world have taken notice and want in on the action too. HBO, who was unsolicited by League of Legends reached out to advertise their upcoming season of Game of Thrones on the game’s website. This featured an entire website takeover and additional graphics. HBO believed that the demographics for League of Legends players and their target viewership naturally fit, so it only seemed logical to advertise on the gaming platform.
The world of digital advertising is about to explode as online gaming continues to generate more and more online views. The names of eSports networks and streaming providers will become household names in the digital advertising world and it’s only a matter of time until advertisers are on an online gaming site near you.