E-Sports gaming is making a surge that could even change what families sit down to watch on a Friday night. Today, there are on average 134 million e-sports viewers worldwide, according to superdataresearch.com, compared to the 114 million who watched the Super Bowl; it may even go on to become a large part of international and U.S. culture. This trend also shows no sign of decline. The net worth of e-sports has reached a whopping 613 million dollars with a 35 million dollar prize pool, according to the Huffington Post.
The popular first person shooter game, Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO), is making one of e-sports’ newest leaps to the world stage as TBS has announced that they will be showing the tournament series, starting in 2016, each Friday night over two 10 week spans. This would make CS: GO the first e-sport to be periodically televised in the U.S., which could potentially pave the way for new televised e-sports series.
“The level of rabid fandom and engagement that we see in this world is extraordinary and we aim to up the experience for both the players and fans alike and provide a cutting-edge live experience on both linear and digital TBS platforms,” TBS president Kevin Reilly said, showing his dedication to helping give that push that gaming needs to the spotlight.
This deal however doesn’t just stop at e-Sports — it goes on to affect all of the gaming industry, which now is on its rise. Today’s average person spends more and more time on the computer playing or watching a game of some sort. This trend can be seen in the extreme expansion of Twitch.tv and YouTube gamers, including the YouTube sensation Pewdiepie whose net worth has reached $12 million by YouTube views alone. Not only can you watch e-Sports, but you can even get involved in them. From going to a local tournament to cosplaying, gaming is turning into a lifestyle.
E-Sports can now even pay for you to go to college. Don’t believe it? In just one inter-college competition, over $540,000 was given out to college students for playing highly ranked e-Sports games. You could assume the number of people playing in inter-collegiate e-Sports is expanding, but the numbers may exceed your expectations. In fact, according to the NY Times, 10,000 college students are now involved in the largest e-Sports league — that’s 4,600 more than Division one college basketball. These college competitions are in almost all cases student-founded, with little to no help from the universities. Now just imagine how fast e-Sports would take hold if universities encouraged them.
Last year when ESPN showed the finals for the Heroes of the Storm inter-collegiate tournament, it had more viewers than the NBA finals and the World Series, before the game was officially released. It also brought about outrage from the sports community. Opposers argued it shouldn’t be shown on a sports and entertainment network if it is not a sport. However, what the e-Sport series doesn’t require in physical feats, it makes up in mental feats. Sure, you don’t have to move a ball across a field and you may just be clicking buttons, but you will have to develop masterful skills in strategy, teamwork, patience and quick thinking to be able to keep up in these e-Sports games.
Considering the waves that e-Sports have made in the last few years alone, it may go on to become one of the largest competition industries not only in the U.S., but even between countries. You may even be able to look back in the future and remember when contact sports were the “big thing.” When the industry has grown this much in the last few years, there is no telling where it could go. But I can tell you to watch out for that initial televised e-Sports broadcast by TBS, because it most likely will not be the last.