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'Traditional sports' sector driving growth of esports

By Tom Walker    01 Aug 2018

A report into the rapidly growing esports sector has found that the greatest increase in investments in esports over the next year will come from the traditional professional sports industry.

Two-thirds of respondents (68 per cent) to the 2018 Esports Survey Report think the involvement of traditional sports teams, leagues, investors and athletes has had a significant impact on the growth of esports.

More than half (57 per cent) believe that traditional sports will increase their investment in esports over the next year.

The finding comes on the heels of significant recent activity by traditional sports leagues and franchises, as they look to diversify their revenue streams.

These include the NBA 2K esports league – which involves the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the eMLS Cup, organised by Major League Soccer.

The report, compiled by the Sports Industry Team at law specialist Foley & Lardner, also predicts that in the year ahead, traditional professional sports sources will look to boost their investments, while advertising, sponsorships and media rights are expected to drive the most revenue growth.

Respondents also identified other developments that will support the burgeoning esports industry.

Over the next year, the majority (88 per cent) foresee the construction of more specialized esports facilities, and 47 per cent expect virtual reality esports to grow substantially.

Geographically, the top five regions expected to see significant growth in esports are the US, China, South Korea, India and Japan.

"Overall, our survey depicts a maturing industry with participants that are heavily focused on protecting and legitimising their brands as interest and investment in esports continue to grow," the report states.

"As one survey respondent put it, 'esports is in a positive but volatile place'.”

The report comes hot on the heels of the recent Olympic Esports Forum, hosted by the International Olympic Committee and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF).

During the event, the IOC revealed it has created a liaison group to work together with the esports community – seen widely as a 'baby step' towards the inclusion of competitive gaming at the Olympic Games.

According to Graham Ashton, esports journalist at The Esports Observer, there is still a long way to go for esports to appear at a traditional, multi-sport games event.

"The International Olympic Committee’s Esports Forum may help build a greater understanding about the industry, but it could also leave many unanswered questions for critics," he said.

"How do you integrate video gaming with athletics? Does intellectual property have a place at a multi-sporting event? How much government regulation is needed, and will stakeholders even accept this? The ball is definitely rolling on the esports–Olympic conversation, but we should still not expect to hear the phrase ‘pentakill’ in the summer games anytime soon."

The report shows that traditional sports will increase their investment in esports over the next year / Shutterstock
Foley & Lardner  NBA  esports  National Baseball Association  eMLS Cup  Major League Soccer  
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