Esports – The Future Of Sports
As the world progresses and advances through technology, many aspects in society have moved towards digitisation. One of the most progressive forms of entertainment today is sports. How the world plays, views and experience sport has changed immensely through the years. Today, playing and watching sports virtually has become a global phenomenon which just keeps getting better. One such phenomenon is esports which is a variation of organised, multiplayer video game competitions.
Esports has captured the attention of many and has quickly become a billion-dollar industry. Begging the question, what will happen to traditional sports? Well, esports viewership has doubled in the last four years from 260 million in 2016 to almost 495 million esports viewers in 2020. A large majority of this viewership is made up of a demographic of the ages 10 to 35 who are also the largest viewers of traditional sports. The popularity of esports can largely be attributed to the unique and symbiotic relationship between players and fans.
This phenomenon does not only allow fans to be the spectator but gives them the opportunity to become the player, if they are good enough. Players compete in a game of sports at a high skill level and are watched by spectators as if they were professional sportsman/ women playing a major tournament. Not only are esports events player based but more overwhelming are the numbers of spectators who tune in to view an esports event.
Like traditional sports, esports allows spectators to wager/bet on each event and is now taking online sports betting by storm. With the esports industry still on the rise and with the esports betting market expected to surpass $13 billion (R218 Billion in South Africa) in 2020, the viewership, events, and community engagement are all set to increase. In 2014, Twitch – the leading esports streaming site was acquired by Amazon and estimated that 421.6 minutes of esports content is watched per person per month on average, about 44% more than that of YouTube.
What is more mind blowing, is the betting prize pool for many esports events – in 2019, Dota 2 fans contributed a massive $33 million (R553 million) of the $34.3 million (R575 million) prize pool for a single event. Making the engagement in esports unparalleled. Esports is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with its unique multiplayer video game aspect and player and fan engagement. As esports continues to grow and become more popular throughout the world, how traditional sports is played, viewed, and enjoyed may become a distant memory in futures to come.
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