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eSports and OTT: Is change coming in this booming market?

By Published On: February 19, 2019 - Categories: Industry Insights Uncategorized

StreamAMG’s Chief Strategy Officer Hugo Sharman was in Cannes last week at eSports BAR, exploring the role of OTT in realising the sector’s huge potential.

It’s mainly the numbers involved in eSports which has made those in traditional sports – people like me – sit up and take notice; 100m people globally play League of Legends, 70m people play tennis. The ‘real’ game that is.

Every week, gamers all over the world stream their games online, the most popular reaching 100,000’s of concurrent watching fans.

At last year’s Sports Pro OTT event in Madrid, there were some pretty impressive numbers thrown around regarding digital sport; The FIFA World Cup saw 9.1m concurrent streams globally.

NBC said it delivered 3.1m concurrent streams for Superbowl 2018. But that was only 2/3% of the total linear TV audience. So some big digital numbers, but compared with the biggest events on linear T.V, still pretty small.

Last week’s eSports BAR conference in Cannes, was eye-opening for similar reasons. Amazon-owned Twitch, YouTube and Facebook all presented some very big numbers reflecting their collective dominance of the gaming space. 200m logged-in users watching esports every day on YouTube. 50 billion hours of watch time in a year. Last year a Battle Royale event saw 1.15m concurrent viewers.

Arriving in Cannes last week felt more like being swept up in a modern-day gold rush than attending your usual conference event. There were as many ‘investors’ and VC’s amongst the delegates as games publishers, team and league owners, and service providers, all wanting in on the action. Like Sportel Monaco, but with hoodies.

But beware the hype. One delegate said to me ‘it seems like bubble, the question is when will it burst?’ A keynote presentation from a rights owner made me smile when he said that sponsors investing into the space ’need to be brave’. In other words, invest, but don’t expect to see an immediate and traceable ROI.

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