Gaming giants like Activision Blizzard and Riot are betting on eSports TV’s prospects

Angels: Esports is the biggest opportunity in TV that no one has talked about – until now.

That’s the view from video game industry veterans watching esports – or the explosive world of live video game competitions, complete with throngs of virtual fans cheering for them – as it’s set to explode in the coming years.

Riot Games and Activision Blizzard are among the gaming giants making significant investments in the booming market era for esports TV rights deals. A new round of consolidation and new capital into gaming, as evidenced by Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard’s $69 billion (RM288.82bil), will raise the stakes, as eSports content is a clear growth engine for games.

“We don’t necessarily see obstacles ahead – we see opportunity,” said Brandon Snow, president of Activision Blizzard eSports. diverse. “Broadcast and cable networks have lost our fan base and demographic to digital streaming services over the past five years, and any real commitment to esports requires a broader strategic vision and objective. We see this as an opportunity, because the longer we wait for traditional broadcasters to make a real investment in esports, the more She needed to play a frenetic and frantic catch-up game.”

In 2021, the esports industry attracted an estimated 474 million viewers and brought in more than $1 billion in total revenue, up 14.5% from 2020, according to game and esports analytics firm Newzoo. It is expected to rise to US$1.6 billion (RM6.69bil) by 2024. But esports media rights brought in only US$192.6 million (RM806.18mil) last year, according to Newzoo’s annual report. That’s a small amount of potatoes compared to the TV rights deals the NFL signed last year with CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN/ABC and Amazon worth US$110 billion (RM460.43 billion) in TV rights deals the NFL made. The American last year with CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN/ABC and Amazon for American football matches extending through 2033.

“If you look at the most watched (and most consumed) esports events over the past five to 10 years, they rival – in terms of total eyeballs and audience participation in viewership – some of the biggest sporting events ever rolled out by the company,” says Daniel Schnapp, Partner at Sheppard Mullin and Head of the Company’s Games and Esports Team: “Traditional sports leagues.

Activision Blizzard signed a $53 million (RM221.84mil) deal with Google in 2020 to give YouTube the exclusive rights to broadcast esports titles, including the upcoming season of the Call Of Duty League, until 2023. That came two years later, A $90 million (RM376.72mil) agreement Activision Blizzard signed with Twitch in January 2018 to make it the home of the Overwatch League.

Other than that, the biggest deal for esports rights is Shanghai-based platform BiliBili, a $38 million (RM159.06mil) one-year license for Riot Games’ League Of Legends League, good for 2019-2023.

A few esports partnerships have been created with traditional broadcast and cable networks, including ABC, Overwatch League, CW Network, and EA for madden Video Game, CBS and Nintendo World Championships. Turner Sports was the most optimistic, producing Eleague events including the upcoming Apex Legends Championship and going on FIFA The video game franchise deal airs on TBS – and Turner’s Bleacher Report digital sports platform has its own B/R Gaming content. (Turner Sports’ Eleague also produced the Nintendo World Championships broadcast on CBS.)

Activision Blizzard’s Snow argues that the industry needs to promote itself as the crown jewel property if it is to become one.

“So far, only a few game publishers and esports IP holders have done the work to bring the right value to their content. Until that changes, there will be some uncertainty as to the ability of esports to generate consistent rights fees across the board,” says Snow.

The increased activity around esports comes after two years of pandemic conditions that greatly expanded the ranks of casual players.

“If you think about the number of people who play games casually and are interested in playing their friends on an amateur level, or just a casual level as a form of interactive entertainment, they just need to convert,” Schnapp says. “And how they transform that audience will be a key factor – whatever companies unlock this magical elixir to turn these regular fans into attractive eyeballs for broadcasters.” – Variety.com/Reuters

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