ESports Shine Light In Absence of Live Sports

As the global pandemic of the novel coronavirus continues to surge, sports has found a new way to shine. Despite the measures many governments and local officials are taking worldwide, esports have shifted into the spotlight and flooded the scene to fulfill this moment as a reputable sports alternative.

ESports are traditionally delivered to large online audiences, to begin with, however, there have been adjustments. Many of the tournaments are usually staged in an off-site area, sometimes with thousands of fans in attendance as well. Given the times we are in, many major esports leagues have been moved to fully online.

Several major sports leagues have even indulged in participating in esports to continue engaging fans. The NHL has doubled down and will offer fans an opportunity to compete for shares of a $150,000 dollar jackpot in their latest NHL 20 gaming world championship.

Sports leagues are also virtualizing their entertainment by simulating games that were scheduled for the year already. NBC Sports Washington will also be broadcasting a live simulation of the Capitals and Red Wings this weekend in a 2-game series.

The NBA will also have teams featured for simulated games. Currently, the Phoneix Suns are simulating games via Twitch. The Suns played out their first game on Twitch against the Dallas Mavericks over a week ago. The simulation drew respectable viewership with 221,000 views and 126,000 unique viewers. Even more NBA teams are being simulated via NBC Sports such as the Washington Wizards, who will be simulating an NBA 2K game this weekend vs the Los Angeles Lakers.

The NBA is currently delaying its esports NBA 2K League play for now as they look to resume their season solely online. In the meantime, the esports league has taken time to engage fans with an NBA 2K League Three For-All Showdown. This tournament includes a $25,000 money pot and a slue of competitors featuring all-star 2K female players, star social media influencers, and fan-organized teams. The tournament begins today on YouTube and NBA 2K League Twitch.

LaLiga joined in on the fun hosting a tournament solely to raise funds for coronavirus relief. This tournament featured 19-star players from the league including, Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio. The FIFA 20 tournament was a huge success, drawing in over 1 million views for the entirety of the weekend.

Major motorsports leagues have also leveraged their esports capabilities recently. NASCAR unveiled its first iRacing series Pro-Invitational event, featuring many current Cup Drivers on simulators this past weekend. This included several NASCAR stars, including veteran and former driver, Dale Earndhart Jr. This event broke history has the most-watched broadcasted esports event ever. It netted 903,000 views on FOXSports the past Sunday. NASCAR will resume its Pro-Invitational iRacing series Sunday, as FOXSports announced it will continue to air the racing events.

As far as the marketing implications go, brands can ultimately benefit from esports. The industry itself has seen a lot of growth prior to the current pandemic. The esports audience is expected to grow to 646 million people by 2023. Many brands are already partnered with a variety of leagues such as Coca-Cola with Overwatch as the league’s official non-alcoholic beverage brand.

Other brands are continuing to strengthen their ties during this time such as Tag-Heuer, who has gained a lucrative sponsorship with Porsche esports. This deal increased the money pool from $100,000 to $200,000 dollars.

As esports continues to rapidly rise in views, we will be watching the brand implications and sponsorships insights overtime.

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Carson Boykin

Assistant Account Executive, Sports