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ESPN leaps into esports

January 28, 2016

MATTHEW VALCHO

Sports Editor | mvv022@latech.edu

VALCHO

VALCHO

When I turned my TV on one morning last week, I thought that I had left my Xbox on by accident overnight. Call of Duty, or CoD, was being played on my screen. Only thing was that I didn’t have a controller in my hand and whoever was playing was way better than I could even hope to be. Then I looked down and saw the ever-present ESPN logo in the bottom right part of my screen. My mind took a second to register that my console was off and that I was definitely not playing.

 

So what is this on my TV? Professional video gaming, or esports, has made its way onto the airwaves of ESPN. Pro gaming can’t be a sport, can it? Playing video games doesn’t require much physical activity, if any. So why has ESPN jumped into the world of video games?

 

The popularity of esports has risen significantly in the past few years, with millions of people across the world taking interest. Call of Duty publisher Activision announced it has acquired assets of Major League Gaming, the premier league for professional esports, and has publicly said they wanted to be the “ESPN of esports”. ESPN took notice.

 

They could also want to attract a new audience. League of Legends is one of the biggest online esports in the world and the League Championship Series (LSC), its championship tournament, had an average viewership of 4.2 million last year. Those numbers rival some regular season sporting events that ESPN has the rights to like Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and even the National Basketball Association.

 

Plus, the primary demographic that watches esports is males aged 21 to 35. This age range is a huge key for marketers meaning the money from advertising could come rolling in. ESPN may have taken a chance on this, but if projections are to be believed, esports could be a goldmine in the making.

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