Gone are the days when gamers were just teenagers in their bedrooms. Vloggers, including the richest YouTuber in the world, Pewdiepie, have made their millions posting gaming play-through videos online, and Sky, seeing the opportunity to bring in young viewers, are now bringing live streams to the masses. GinxeSports TV, the UK’s first 24-hour eSports channel launched this month with investment from Sky and ITV, bringing the world of eSportentertainment to 37 million homes around the world.
eSports are a relatively new spectacle. Before GinxTV was launched in 2008, it had limited reach on dedicated online platforms or YouTube channels, but the relaunch shows that some of the key players in media see eSports as a major investment.
After the huge amount of money channels have invested in traditional competitive sports –including the £5bn deal for rights to the Premier League –television’s adoption of eSports was always going to be the next step. The last year has seen a massive growth in revenue for the eSportsector, led by the increased investment from brands and advertisers. eSports’ move into TV will now provide even more opportunities. For one, advertisers will be able to target the ever-elusive 16-34 male audience with traditional advertising and connect with content that invokes the inner child of consumers.
With the eSports industry attracting global viewing audiences of 134 million and performing particularly strongly within key sports-betting demographics, bookies lead close behind as the second largest investors in the industry. Today all the major betting sites enable punters to stake on in-play and pre-event markets and eSports even has even got its own dedicated betting service in the form of Unikrn.
But current TV audiences for the world of eSportare small; last year GinxTV averaged a monthly 16-34 reach of 53,000 in the UK. Sky will have to work hard to entice eSportconsumers away from dedicated platforms such as Amazon’s Twitch that comes embedded in the Playstation4.
The expansion of eSports from online to TV is a testament to the ever-evolving media landscape. This was a form of entertainment with a niche following established online, and only now is it being brought through to mainstream media. The eSportindustry is proof that broadcasters are not stuck in the dark ages and are taking learnings from the digital landscape to help develop new programming genres and providing advertisers with new and diverse ways to influence their brands and find consumers.