Pro football is America’s most popular sport. Can you guess what’s number two? Baseball? Basketball?
Nope. It’s E-Sports, otherwise known as competitive video gaming.
E-Sports features elite players competing on dedicated streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube/gaming. Meanwhile, millions of fans watch online as thumbs do battle on popular games like Dota 2 and League of Legends.
Welcome to the world of E-Sports, already a $1.5 billion business. Its growth has been explosive, attracting a global audience of over 300 million fans. Here in the U.S., there are 85 million active gamers…about one-in-four Americans.
No other sport comes close.
Plus, E-Sports operates 24 hours a day, with no off-season, rain delays or TV timeouts. It’s not plagued by injuries, salary caps and player strikes. E-Sports tournaments offer boat loads of cash, not to mention sponsorship and appearance fees. Then there’s the future of betting and live events. Fans routinely pack arenas like Madison Square Garden (while the Knicks can’t).
With so much blood in the water, vulture capitalists and advertisers want a piece of E-Sports. As do musicians. Superstars from Metallica to McCartney have composed music for videogames, reaching far more people than traditional media. How long before videogames launch new artists’ careers?
But is E-Sports a real sport? The International Olympic Committee is convinced and are expected to formally recognize it.
Here’s my take. E-Sports ain’t your grandpa’s Pong game, where two rectangles battled a dot. With virtual reality and photo-realistic 3d projection, games will soon be indistinguishable from reality.
While inflation will curb entertainment spending, video games seem bulletproof. Pro teams have passionate fans, but gaming transcends sports. It’s woven into the fabric of our lives.
So, move over Brady and Lebron, gamers are the new sports heroes. And they do it without breaking a sweat.