The Growing Esports Sector Brings New Opportunities for Media Industry

The global esports audience will reach 453.8 million viewers this year, according to figures from Newzoo, a global provider of games and esports analytics. In its 2019 Global Esports Market Report, Newzoo says it expects 2019 will be the first billion-dollar year for esports as companies focus on monetizing the audience.

NAB Show will address monetization strategies and other topics related to the esports phenomenon with the addition of the new Esports Experience, located in the North Hall. The interactive destination features exhibits, a theater and educational programming that showcase the latest online gaming trends and content delivery technologies.

According to Keith Buckley, former president and CEO of The Switch, esports is the fastest-growing segment of the entertainment industry, with viewership estimates expected to exceed one billion by 2022.

“Although the esports audience remains largely digital with the majority of esports tournaments viewed via streaming online or OTT platforms, in 2018, Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League Grand Finals were broadcast for the first time on the ABC network. It was also the first time live competitive gaming aired on ESPN in primetime,” Buckley said.

The Switch is among the sponsors of the Esports Experience. Other sponsors include Grass Valley, Beasley XP, E-Blue E-Gear, Akamai, IHSE USA, EVS and Activate Entertainment.

The Esports Experience offers 30-minute sessions on topics like branding, media

rights, in-game camera systems, streaming, monetization, consumer engagement and game development, among others. Also, the destination will feature popular esports and gaming “CheckPoint XP,” which will be conducting live interviews with NAB Show speakers, industry leaders and influencers.

“Esports is growing exponentially, and there are real opportunities for the broadcast and wider media industry,” said Chris Brown, executive vice president of Conventions and Business Operations, NAB. “It is a new form of content, with its own ecosystem of content players, and it is rapidly reaching a point where there is a need for a higher level of production and distribution.”

Esports will also take the Main Stage on Wednesday with the session “The Esports Evolution: What’s Next in Gaming.” Panelists include Ari Segal of Immortals LLC, Cameron Kelly of Complexity Gaming, Michael Vorhaus of Vorhaus Advisors, Jeff Tyler with Detroit Renegades, Ann Hand of Super League Gaming and Jonathan “Fatal1ty Wendel with ReadyUp.”

“This is a new sector that can benefit from the expertise of veteran media organizations to take the genre to a new level,” Brown said.