When it Comes to the Growth of Esports, Content is King
Technology With a large global audience and increasingly high revenue, Esport competitions have transformed into a whole new kind of sports industry.
The phenomenon known as Esports is notable not only for the number of people that participate in this global pastime, but for the number of people that spend endless hours watching Esports competitions on specialty broadcasters.
Esports generated $636 million in revenue in 2016, with a global audience of about 320 million people. Prize money of more than $120 million was won in 2016. In 2017, the prize pool just for the International Dota 2 (a multi-player battle arena game) tournament was approximately $25 million.
Esports revenue and audience expected to double by 2020
According to a recent report by the BBC, Esports will not only generate more than $1.75 billion in global revenue by the year 2020, it will almost double its audience to nearly 600 million people. It is an audience that is growing by leaps and bounds and one that is being serviced by some of the world’s biggest brands, including Microsoft and Amazon.
“Not only are we seeing some of the biggest names in technology stake their claims in the Esports sector, we are also witnessing a rush amongst the leaders in traditional sports to get involved in this exciting and growing space,” says Alex Igelman, CEO of Toronto-based Millennial Esports. “When you take a look at the revenue, viewership, and prizing numbers in Esports, it’s no wonder teams such as the New England Patriots and Paris St. Germain are anxious to get involved.”
One of the reasons revenue and prizing numbers are so high is the number of people that tune in to watch Esports on a regular basis on platforms such as Twitch — a live streaming video platform owned by Twitch Interactive, a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Introduced in June 2011 as a spin-off of the general-interest streaming platform, Justin.tv, the site primarily focuses on video game live streaming, providing content that can either be viewed live or via video on demand.
Not to be left behind, Microsoft has put considerable effort and investment into its own Esports live streaming service, Xbox Mixer. According to Microsoft, Mixer is the only next generation streaming service that offers viewers real-time influence and participation in live game streams. The platform enables Esports streamers and viewers to connect like never before, engaging together to create a whole new streaming experience.
Esports audience has insatiable appetite for top quality content
As a result of both the size of the Esports audience and the wide range of viewing options available, there is an ever-increasing need for Esports-related content. One organization that identified and anticipated this growing need is Millennial Esports, a Canadian company dedicated to becoming the leading producer of Esports content for consumers and brands to engage, by delivering premium content through live events, game titles and narrative content.
“Esports is expanding globally at a phenomenal rate,” says former Sony Pictures executive and founder of 2.0 Entertainment, Doug Belgrad, who serves of the board of Millennial Esports. “The appetite for well-produced content among the Esports audience is increasing correspondingly.”
A key piece of Millennial Esports strategy to meet that increasing demand was commissioning and opening the first dedicated Esports arena in the global gaming mecca of Las Vegas. The Millennial Esports Arena at Neonopolis in downtown Las Vegas, dubbed thE Arena, is a 15,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility that accommodates more than 1,100 people and has become a favourite destination for clients such as EA, Amazon, and Microsoft.
“The idea behind Neonpolis was to bring downtown Las Vegas into the future,” says Neonopolis owner Rohit Joshi. “The excitement and buzz produced by thE Arena has been a key part of making that vision a reality.”
In hosting events for EA, Microsoft, and Amazon, thE Arena has not only provided these leading technology brands with a home in Las Vegas, but also with a steady supply of content for their respective streaming services. Not content to stop there, Millennial Esports has also joined forces with Microsoft to produce Beyond the Sticks, an Esports training program airing on Xbox Mixer that provides an exclusive behind the scenes look at some of the leading personalities in Esports today.
“As part of our accelerated growth strategy, Millennial Esports has focused on key strategic acquisitions in data and analytics, premium content production, and event hosting capabilities,” says Millennial’s Igelman. “We are now dedicated to vertically integrating our various investment to maximize the potential for creating engaging content. We truly feel that, when it comes to Esports, content is king.”