Riot Games and MLB Advanced Media have announced a partnership to help monetize and commercialize League of Legends. This is huge news for League of Legends which has one of the largest player bases in the Esports scene. While the details of this deal will not fully see fruition for fans until years from now if a better viewing experience is created then everyone wins.
John Skipper, ESPN President famously said that he didn’t believe Esports was a sport and he was only interested in covering real sports. Years later he has now changed his tune and admitted that he still learning at his age with ESPN taking a much more active role in Esports. This isn’t an uncommon way of thinking especially among older professional sports veterans.
Improvement in relations between traditional sports and Esports has been a positive turn of events. While Esports and traditional sports are different they also share a lot of similarities. Many veteran sports organizations can provide the experience and infrastructure to expand and monetize while Esports can teach traditional sports a few things about this new generation of digital consumers.
The average Esports consumer has grown up in the digital world. They love to consume their content digitally whether it be streaming shows or playing games online. It is because of this so many young people tend to gravitate towards Esports when it comes to competitive entertainment. This doesn’t mean they don’t love to watch traditional sports, just like to watch games they also play.
Video games are becoming as common as watching movies. There are many different types of gamers who play casually just on their phones or on a dedicated gaming hardware. It is just natural for people who consume video games to also enjoy watching professionals playing at the highest level. Though with that also comes growing up being used to getting your content for much cheaper.
This audience of the young digital age is used to their content being extremely accessible with a low barrier to entry. It is hard to monetize if your viewership is largely online using free services like Twitch and YouTube. The average Esports fan spends far less than the average traditional sports fan.
Broadcasting Esports is very expensive and if the industry wants to be sustainable it will need to figure out more sources of revenue. There are many challenges that need to be addressed such as creating a better environment for teams and players but none of that can be solved until Esports becomes profitable for everyone that invests in it.
If Riot and MLB Advanced Media can create a product that users will want to spend money on without alienating those used to getting it for free on sites like Twitch and YouTube then this will be great for the Esports industry.