Trendy e-sports gaining clout

Virtual sports attracting fans, sales and salaries and potential advertisers
20 March 2020
SMWHH 2020

Global sales in e-sports have soared from USD 130 million in 2012 to USD 865 million in 2018, according to a 2020 analysis by Statista. Experts expect huge growth across the industry in the coming years with turnover of USD 1.79 billion forecast for 2022. 

Sell-out “League of Legends” tournaments 

Enthusiastic fans saw visitor numbers to the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in Katowice, Poland swell to 174,00 compared to 85,000 concertgoers at Rock am Ring in 2019. Tickets to a League of Legends sold out in four minutes compared to ten minutes for concert tickets by singer Adele. Such keen interest is fuelling the attractiveness of e-sports for advertising and sponsorship by renowned brands.

 

SMWHH 2020 | Yvonne Scheller
© Yvonne Scheller
SMWHH 2020

Well-known companies backing industry

Agencies are also finding more creative ways of presenting their customers in the right light amid growing numbers of fans. The Hamburg-based agency OMG Fuse has created a platform for HP, the U.S. multinational information technology company, with OMEN Academy. Launched in 2018, the platform promotes e-sports among youths in Germany and has its own tournament called the OMEN series.

U.S. tech giants on board

Major U.S. technology companies have their own streaming platforms. Facebook, for instance, uses a channel on Google-owned YouTube. Microsoft streams via Mixers, which it bought in 2016 when the company was called Bean, and Amazon uses Twitch, which it purchased in 2014, and now holds sways in the e-sports sector.

Millions in prize money 

Plenty of money can be earned in e-sports, said Markus Kliemke, Director of Esports at Lagardère Sports in Hamburg. “Players in the League of Legends earn salaries of around U.S. 300,000 p.a.” Players of Dota 2, a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game developed and published by Valve, earn prize money and last year, USD 35 million was up for grabs. The concept of e-sports also featured during the recently ended SMWHH in Hamburg. Are e-sports really sport and worthy of the Olympics? Although the issue is of lesser importance to players, Kliemke prefers to speak of “competitive entertainment”. 
ys/pb