A Saturday afternoon final. A sold out Arthur Ashe stadium. Millions of fans from all around the world watching. Canadian fans pinning their hopes on a teenage phenom.
No, I am not talking about the 2019 Women’s US Open Final, though, it goes without saying, congratulations, Bianca! #ShetheNorth
This is actually the story of Hayden Krueger, and his third place finish in the Fortnite World Cup duo competition, which took place this past July. And while he isn’t a household name yet, the teenage phenom still won more than US $1 million in prize money.
This year, the eSports industry will top US $1B in revenue; its growth rate is triple the rate of the video game industry. Today, gaming is at the heart of the entertainment experience. Gen Z is one of the first generations in decades that is growing up without a cable subscription. Instead, they have access to high-speed internet and are thus diverging from traditional forms of media and entertainment. Currently, 30% of US consumers pay for a gaming subscription service, and at least 41% play video games on a weekly basis. As this trend is likely to continue, growth and interest in watching eSports should only continue to rise.
This presents a perfect match; the enthusiasm of Gen Z gamers and the desire of advertisers and marketers to reach this elusive generation. I would argue this is one of the key factors behind the unprecedented growth of the eSports industry.
This season the OverWatch League (“OWL”)* will have its Grand Final broadcast on ABC, in front of a sold out crowd at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. As the events continue to gain traction and viewership, it will become even more important for brands to have eSports as part of their overall branding and marketing strategy. With OWL’s recent announcement of the league’s new travelling format for the 2020 season, marketers and consumer products companies will need to find ways to adapt to changing consumer behaviour, and I for one, am looking forward to watching the next steps of this burgeoning industry.
*OWL has two Canadian franchises, Toronto Defiant and Vancouver Titans, who are managed and partially owned by Enthusiast Gaming Holdings Inc. (TSXV:EGLX).
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