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Is Esport Saving The Sporting world?


May 2020

Covid-19 has had a huge global impact on traditional sport and entertainment with the biggest sporting events and venues in the world closing their doors until further notice, for the fans this has left a large void.

Increase in Esport Viewership Amid Coronavirus

In the face of uncertain times, some industries have been thriving, particularly gaming which has gained a lot of new attention recently. Although esports hasn’t been completely unaffected by the global crisis with various large tournaments being cancelled, it remains in a very stable position with people being ordered to stay at home and find new ways to entertain themselves.

As a result of the current lockdown measures many people are turning to gaming and tuning in to watch esports for both entertainment and escapism; streaming platform Twitch reportedly grew its audience by nearly a third in March and we expect these numbers to have risen in April.

Traditional Sports Have Taken a Hit

The impact of the current crisis on traditional sport has been devastating for all involved, from the players and leagues down to the sports media broadcasters; Sky and BT Sport have reportedly lost £1billion amid sport cancellations.

Major sports rely heavily on broadcasting income, commercial opportunities, and match day revenue so consequently the suspension of all sports has created real economic concern.

Mercedes AMG stand in the Fanzone - Marriott.

Esports is Filling The Content Void

The crisis has also prompted many traditional sports to ask how they can effectively keep their fans connected when games are no longer going ahead, and fans are getting bored of watching old highlights.

During this period esports can fill the void by offering an opportunity for sports to provide new content to their fans and bring in streams of income in a ‘show must go on’ attitude, albeit from the safety of home.

Reinventing Sport as we know it – Formula 1

Many sports have recently turned to esport to engage with their fans and fill the content gap. Formula 1 launched a new esports Virtual Grand Prix series featuring a number of current F1 drivers.

The series has been created to enable fans to continue following races virtually. Over 3.2 million people watched the first race online with concurrent streams peaking at 359,000. The esport races will run in place of every postponed Grand Prix.

FIFA Ultimate Quaranteam

In football, the FIFA Ultimate QuaranTeam tournament was established to raise money for Football league clubs whose finances have been severely hit from the suspension. The tournament was played through the FIFA 20 game and had both football players and professional E-gamers representing teams.

The games were streamed across Twitter, Youtube and Twitch and raised over £57,000. Of the money raised, 25% went to MIND charity and COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fundraiser set up by WHO (World Health Organisation).

Will All Be Forgotten?

With the noticeable spike in consumers playing video games and watching esports, the question the gaming world is asking is will they continue to do so when lock down restrictions are lifted? The good news is that the increase in interest is not looking like it will be short lived.

According to a recent GWI study, 77% of millennials and 57% of Gen Zers who are gaming more as a result of Covid-19, say they will continue to do so after the outbreak (GWI Coronavirus Research, April 2020). The numbers look promising but only time will tell whether esports will continue to be front of mind beyond its loyal fanbase when our doors finally open again.

Esports and Traditional Sports Coming Together

The covid-19 pandemic has accelerated what was already a fast-growing industry and effectively diversified the gaming audience. Traditional sports have faced a catastrophic hit so the need to branch out to other platforms has never been greater.

Esports has offered conventional sports a much-needed lifeline to engage their audience during this uncertain period. Meanwhile the shift in the way fans are engaging with traditional sport via gaming suggests there is an appetite to evolve into a more permanent fixture within the esport landscape. While esports will never replace sports there appears to be great value in forming a strategic alliance moving forward.

The need for brands to connect with their consumers has never been greater.

Please do get in touch with the Purity team to see how we can help you achieve this during these challenging times.

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