The past six months have seen an increasing convergence of the world of esports and ‘traditional sports’. From investment by major sports leagues and personalities throughout the US, and now European football clubs and leagues following suit, there’s a lot to discuss.
It’s here that the Esports Insider Super Forum comes in. The event, taking place on 22nd March in London at Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea, will see eight panels and round tables discuss topics as wide ranging as the value of team ownership, to media rights and broadcasting and the various ways in which sports clubs can enter esports.
Esports has experienced monumental growth in recent years and over 180 sports clubs have opened their eyes and decided to get involved in some form.
There have huge investments into franchised leagues ranging from the New England Patriots (Overwatch League) to the Golden State Warriors (North American League of Legends Championship Series), with spots in the Overwatch League reportedly costing upwards of US$20m. Elsewhere, there have been examples of European football teams starting esports ventures such as Schalke 04, PSG, and FC Copenhagen - with FC Copenhagen’s Nordisk Films team venture known as North and are currently operating in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive only, but have plans beyond that. North chief executive Christian Sorensen is amongst a host of top speakers at the ESI Super Forum.
With so much interest from clubs and investment from well known personalities in soccer, National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA) including Rick Fox, Shaquille O’Neal, Gerard Pique, Ruud Gullit and more this is undoubtedly an exciting time for the industry.
Professional leagues are getting involved too, with the NBA 2K League kicking off its inaugural season in February, and soccer leagues around the world such as the Primeira Liga in Portugal, Major League Soccer in the US and the Bundesliga all officially embracing esports editions. There are also strong suggestions that the NFL is set to follow suit very shortly - and rumour has it that the NHL isn’t far behind.
Sam Cooke, editor-in-chief at Esports Insider noted: “We’ve put together an excellent line up for our first ESI Super Forum. The likes of RFRSH, Team Vitality, Fnatic, North, ESL, and Riot Games will be taking to the stage to debate pertinent issues in the space. We’re delighted to welcome Ruud Gullit as our keynote speaker too.
“There is also plenty to offer beyond the talks, with the Esports Insider Business Zone featuring an exhibitor zone, alongside room for meetings, networking, and refreshments served throughout the day to keep everyone in tiptop shape. With an esports tournament on the cards too, attendees best get practising, though I’m afraid the game of choice is TBC for now!”
Whilst the esports world continues to collide with the traditional sports world - there remains a set of stark differences. The fan demographic is different; it’s considerably younger which will be of interest to leagues such as the NFL for which the age of the average viewer is said to be 50. Companies need to behave in a different way in how they approach the target audience too, something which is often misunderstood. Sponsorships in the space work in different ways and media rights deals (such as the recent one between ESL and Facebook) are starting to take shape across the industry. At the end of the day, no one owns the intellectual property for a game of football - but a publisher owns the total IP of its video game.
The ESI Super Forum will bring together the finest in the industry with a wealth of experience in both esports and traditional sports. It offers a perfect chance for those intrigued to find out more about how the two spaces will continue to interact and where the potential commercial opportunity lies. A mixture of top sports clubs, leagues and esports stalwarts will be in attendance for what’s sure to be a fantastic day of knowledge sharing and networking.
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