- Some of the biggest names in esports are looking forward to exploring the potential of TV broadcasting deals
- This is a largely unexplored territory with a lot of opportunities
- Industry specialists have remarked that esports is slowly catching up to traditional sports both in terms of viewership and betting engagement
Riot Games and Activision Blizzard are among some of the biggest gaming and esports companies looking forward to exploring the possibilities of TV broadcasting deals.
Blizzard and Riot at the Forefront of the Broadcasting Deals
As esports’ popularity soars, major gaming companies begin considering the prospects of airing esports content on TV. Activision Blizzard and Riot Games are among the pioneers who are ready to explore the potential of esports on the TV screen.
According to statistics, esports has attracted almost half a billion new viewers in 2021 alone with total revenues of the industry surpassing a billion dollars. Analysts predict that the industry will make as much as $1.6 billion a year by 2024.
Despite rising in appeal, esports still have a long way to go. Esports media rights earned the industry just $192.6 million in 2021, which is still far from the multi-billion TV rights deals of the traditional sports industry.
However, companies remain optimistic. In 2018, Activision Blizzard inked a $90 million agreement with Twitch, providing the streaming platform with exclusive rights for streaming the Overwatch League. Two years later, Activision Blizzard and Google penned a deal for $53 million annually that provided YouTube with exclusive broadcasting rights for Blizzard’s esports titles.
Riot Games has also been eager to explore the possibilities of broadcasting deals. It has a notable deal with the broadcasting platform BiliBili that allows the latter to stream the League of Legends competitive season for $38 million a year.
Opportunities Lie Ahead, Industry Specialists Say
Brandon Snow, the head of esports for Activision Blizzard, commented on the matter in an interview with Variety. According to him, the esports industry needs to market itself as something valuable if it wants to be treated as such. He criticized publishes for selling their rights at way too low prices.
“Until that changes, there will be some ambiguity in esports’ ability to generate consistent rights fees across the board,” Snow remarked.
He added that he doesn’t see challenges as much as he sees opportunities:
“Broadcast and cable networks have been losing our fan base and demographic to digital streaming services over the last five years, and any real commitment to esports requires vision and a broader strategic purpose. We see this as an opportunity because the longer traditional broadcast media wait to make a real investment in esports, the more they will need to play a frenzied and frenetic game of catch-up.”Activision Blizzard head of esports Brandon Snow
Speaking of opportunities, Daniel Schnapp, a Sheppard Mullin partner, shared that esports is slowly catching up to traditional sports. The top esports events are comparable with some of the big traditional sports leagues both in terms of viewership and betting activity. Furthermore, the pandemic has greatly benefited esports by creating more players, viewers, and bettors.
Esports broadcasting deals are something that presents great opportunities for growing the industry, both in revenue and in popularity.