The past decade has seen the dramatic growth of esports as a name that has moved from a niche interest into the household as the biggest games draw in similar or more viewers than some of the biggest traditional sporting events in the world. Moving hand in hand with the growth of online livestreaming through platforms such as Twitch, the future of sports entertainment as a whole could be on the cusp of changing as the future seems to be firmly rooted in online alternatives.
The most telling for this shift is within the fact that many major broadcasting deals in sporting are set to expire over the coming years, with some such as Rugby and European Football having already made the change as platforms such as Amazon Prime are already streaming the content with their own broadcasting rights – whilst some are still tied to cable channels or stuck behind paywalls, this big shift could bring more viewers and bigger numbers as they are more widely accessible, and available for free which could be the more impactful change.
Other markets involved with sporting have been able to thrive with the online space, esports for example has seen a wave of new betting markets for example that have grown over the past four or five years as a growing number of sites not registered to platforms like Gamstop have been able to provide a familiar option in sporting with many here offering markets in esports, the growth of alternative games in the likes of FIFA and NBA have provided yet more familiarity to those looking to make the shift too.
There are of course some hurdles to overcome yet – the gaming market is still primarily aimed at a younger audience and whilst the demographic is changing there is still a gap to fill for the older audience, whilst the formerly mentioned familiar titles are helping here there are still the diehard fans attached to the more traditional sporting options rather than the virtual ones. Similarly, as esports is still so young having only been around in its current form for the past decade or as a whole for around two decades, there are still many stumbles to be had along the way – most recently seen in the likes of match fixing scandals and other drama that arises, to really be considered the future of sports entertainment, many of these issues need to be fixed. The platform of streaming itself however does certainly lend itself to being the way forward, and major sporting may have little choice but to make the shift or risk falling behind as the current broadcasting deals come to and end and newer options are required to succeed.
(Featured Image from blog.video.ibm.com)