Are eSports the new rival to traditional sports? Or are they at the two opposite sides of the spectrum? If so, what triggers this competition? Whichever the answer, it is for a fact that the video gaming phenomenon has caught the attention of the traditional sports industry.
eSports speakers at the BECO Boost MENA Investor Forum 2018 revealed that viewership is already outpacing some major league sports audiences. For instance, the eSports audience is currently 167 million viewers and is expected to reach 276 million by the year 2022; as for physical sports they have a total of 270 million viewers of NFL, 114 million of MLB, and an overall of 231 million of NBA. An example of Twitch, being the largest livestreaming platform in the United States, it has approximately 5 million active viewers who spend 106 minutes each day watching live gaming, which ranks higher than prime time cable TV networks like CNN.
The speakers also talked about how the digital natives are spending "Real" money on "Virtual" assets, in particular, Fortnite which is currently worth $1.2 billion according to SuperData Research cited by Recode. Nevertheless, eSports players are not being paid equally to traditional athletes; the average professional eSports salary is about $60,000 per year, excluding the money that they receive from prizes. On the other hand, the traditional athlete's average salary, such as an NFL player, is $2.1 million according to Forbes. However, many players earn more than this amount.
To conclude, eSports had definitely invaded the professional sports industry, with good gears and in great numbers. But the question remains: will they beat the traditional sports at their own game?