From geek to cool.

In a highly-competed and global race for fans’ attention, eSports have emerged as a lifeboat to maintain football relevant. While two out of five young people simply don’t care about football, the intersection between technology and experience can be the cure for a dropping engagement.

In the same way it does not make sense to differentiate between marketing and digital marketing, eSports are here to provide a natural upgrade among football stakeholders and their relationships with fans. Like women’s football, it demands a significant investment in return of a promising future.

An industry that is currently generating the same USD 1 billion that FC Barcelona projected in revenue last season and that is expected to be worth more than USD 5 billion by 2024, the combined revenues of the top fifteen teams in the Premier League.

Who are the geeks

According to Kantar Media, six out of ten users dedicate between one and two hours per day to play video games, mostly on their smartphones. A global fan base of about half a billion people where EA Sports game FIFA occupies a privileged second position accounting for 23% of the global market. While sports fans who play eSports are based in India, Hong Kong and Singapore; the majority of active competition players live in United States and China.

Actually, did you know that only United Sates and China are estimated to represent an impressive 50% of the total eSports industry by 2023?

eSports are not only composed by players, but by a whole community who consumes content, interacts, recommends and replaces 75% of their time from traditional sports for virtual experiences. In fact, eSports viewers are the youngest ones, registering an average age of 32 years old.   

A brand-new business

As any other investment, patience is key in order to let eSports mature, as buying a franchise slot or establishing a team costs more than €10 million in most cases and even the most successful teams, such as Astralis, which reports losses of €5 million despite generating €6.5 million in revenues. Like in most football clubs, high wages and staff salaries in eSports account for more than half of the total cost structures.

A business model that also finds synergies in revenue structures between football clubs and eSports. Sponsorship, advertisement, broadcasting rights, merchandising and ticketing also represent most of eSports’ revenue streams. The commercial area accounts for near half of the total, leaving huge room for growth in broadcasting.

Earlier in March, LaLiga Santander Challenge gathered more than 1 million viewers in a tournament where twenty LaLiga clubs participated. More than 180,000 euros were collected to fight COVID-19. In the English Premier League, most of the Big Six clubs have taken initial steps without committing major resources so far.

In women’s football

Being the digital landscape the natural platform for women’s football awareness, eSports should represent an extension of the relationship with one of the fan bases with higher engagement in sport. In May, Iberdrola and the RFEF organised a charitable FIFA20 tournament where 100,000 euros were donated to tackle COVID-19 as well.

Signing professional players, partnering with teams, establishing an eSports division or creating a new brand are some of the many option women’s football can assess to make the first step. The current situation might not be the best for taking such risks, however it will put pressure on women’s football stakeholders to take action in the global challenge for attention.

The pandemic has accelerated a change of culture we were already experiencing. It will become everyone’s choice to shift from traditional sports to entertainment and purpose.

We want to play a significant role, do not we?

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