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Published on June 4th, 2020 | by minshewnetworks

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Are Video Games the Future of Sport?

 

In 2020, Major League Baseball joined the growing list of top American sports leagues to hold an esports tournament. Top current and former baseball stars swapped the mound for their consoles to play MLB The Show in a competitive series that was aired on TV and streamed online via just about every platform imaginable.

The competition received mixed reviews, although most fans and critics enjoyed professional coverage and the dynamic between everyone involved. This was helped by the fact that it got the same amount of attention as a typical baseball game, with TV coverage, commentary, and punditry, along with a host of bookmakers accepting bets on the games. This meant that fans could take the approach to esports betting similar to traditional baseball since all the same terminology and concepts found in the Oddschecker ultimate MLB betting guide were still applicable.

 

Strong Focus on Esports

Sports leagues have been investing more in digital competitions in recent years, as part of a wider strategy to expand their fanbase. As viewing figures stagnate for most major sports in the US, leagues like the NBA and NFL have been hosting games abroad overseas.

NFL games take place at London’s Wembley Stadium each year since 2007. Meanwhile, the NBA has been hosting games in the city for several years, although it has decided to move these games to Paris.

Esports are another element of this strategy, attracting fans of competitive video game playing in hopes of turning them into fans of the traditional sport too.

Motorsports have been doing the same. Formula 1 has run its esports series for several years already, while NASCAR, Indycar, and Formula E have all joined in more recently.

 

 

Taking it Seriously

Esports are being taken seriously too. If covering it on traditional TV networks wasn’t enough to demonstrate this, recent events in a Formula E race will remove any doubts.

Daniel Abt, a driver for the Audi Formula E team was caught cheating in an esports race earlier in May. After poor performances in several other races, he asked a professional gamer to race on his behalf instead.

The truth was revealed a few days after the race, with Audi confirming he had been suspended shortly after. The following day, Abt’s suspension became permanent and he received a €10,000 fine.

This kind of strong response is necessary if esports are to be taken seriously by fans and sponsors.

 

Huge Viewing Figures

Having sponsors see esports competitions as legitimate sporting events is important because a lot of money is at stake. Large brands are investing millions in series like the NBA 2K League, with Dell and Intel being two of the companies acting as sponsors.

They’re willing to pay because these competitions are attracting sizable crowds. There are reportedly around 21 million esports fans in the United States alone, with around 10% of these watching over 20 hours of games every week. That’s just 8 hours less than the average American spends watching TV.

These fans are also spending a lot with bookmakers too. It’s estimated that $14 billion will be wagered on esports events in 2020 alone, an impressive figure that equates to 10% of the amount spent on traditional sports.

 

Are Esports the Future?

While there’s continued growth in the popularity of esports, it’s unlikely they will overtake traditional sports any time soon. For many, real-life competitions of basketball or motor racing are greater tests of skill than playing a video game simulation. In those cases, a simulation is not typically considered to be as good.

However, it’s different when you consider fictional video games. There’s no real-life equivalent of Call of Duty, League of Legends or Dota 2. Therefore, esports are not a “simulation” of a competition, they are the competition. 

In fact, these types of games are some of the most-watched and most-bet-on esports competitions played today.

Instead of one replacing the other, it’s more likely that esports will co-exist with traditional sports, making it part of the future, but not all of it.

 


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