Growing popularity of eSports

More and more people are watch eSports these days.  The League of Legends Season 3 World Championship, staged in Los Angeles last October, had 32 million viewers, more than the World Series and NCAA Final Four combined.

Frank Lantz, Director of the Game Center at New York University, says eSports are gaining on the big leagues in terms of popularity.  “The most popular eSports, something like League of Legends, is up there in the mix with some other major sports,” he notes.  He says eSports have already surpassed hockey in popularity, though not yet pro basketball or football.

Lantz says the prospects are good for continued rapid growth in the popularity of eSports.  “I would bet on it, sure,” he says.  “I would guess that over the next five years they’re going to continue to grow, and we’re going to see larger and larger audiences for these games.”  

Lantz points out that the eSports craze started about ten years ago in South Korea with StarCraft, “a real-time strategy game” that caught on.  “There were multiple TV stations that broadcasted it, huge stadiums where live tournaments would be held, and the pro gamers there were like pop idols with fan clubs and very big contracts,” he says.  Over the next five or six years, “that same phenomenon has happened on a more global scale.”

There are people who do this for a living, Lantz points out.  “There are teams that are professionally managed teams,” he says.  “There are players with contracts with various teams, and also sponsorship teams with brands and advertisers.”  Big money is already involved in these games, so continued growth is likely.

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