The synergy between the worlds of sport, gambling and eSports took another step forward recently when the New York Yankees announced a move into the competitive gaming industry. Announced on 19 October, the deal will see the baseball team invest an undisclosed sum in gaming outfit, Vision eSports.
The company already has a physical interest in the competitive gaming arena with its professional eSports team Echo Fox, which is owned by former NBA star Rich Fox. The company also owns Twin Galaxies, which compiles gaming stats and rankings, as well as the production company Vision Entertainment.
Between these three verticals, Vision eSports has become one of the biggest players in the competitive game world. Read on to see what impact the United Sates' largest professional sports franchise joining he ranks of major players around the world embracing competitive gaming, better known as eSports!
Although the exact terms of the new deal between the Yankees and Vison eSports have been kept under wraps, the former will likely benefit from a franchise deal in 2018. When Riot Games grants ten eSports teams part ownership of its North American League of Legends Championship Series, Echo Fox is set to be among those offered.
With a slot on the roster costing a reported $10 million, the Yankees' recent investment and subsequent financial support will be integral to the deal. Beyond the financial possibilities, the Yankees and Echo Fox will explore a variety of cross-market promotions, events, advertising drives and more.
Indeed, in the same way online gambling companies have started to invest in eSports, US sporting franchises like the Yankees will be looking to do the same. 888poker, a partner site of 888casino, agreed a deal with Flow eSports back in December 2016.
As part of the deal, team members from Flow eSports were given 888 branding at live gaming events as well as entry to poker tournaments. Essentially working on the basis that competitive gamers and professional poker players share a number of skills, the deal has been a way for both industries to attract new players.
In fact, this growing relationship between eSports and the iGaming world has manifested itself in the sports betting arena. Today, the leading online bookmakers offer regular odds on leading eSports games such as League of Legends.
Beyond the recent links between eSports and the betting industry, the BBC recently got into the game by offering TV coverage of the Gfinity Elite League on BBC 3. Disney’s accelerator programme has been attracting big brands to the industry since 2014 (more on those here).
With the Yankees' recent deal likely to follow a similar pattern to those forged by iGaming companies and others, we could see an interesting three-way dynamic develop. According to analysts at Newzoo, the eSports economy is expected to increase in value over the next three years.
At this stage, year-on-year on growth is projected to top 43%. Based on this, brand investment in the industry will be worth $1.5 billion by 2020, while merchandise and ticket sales will hit $64 million. With the market showing huge potential, the increasing synergy between the three is not only likely to benefit all involved, but throw up some interesting innovations.
Perhaps the most interesting development could be the introduction of competitive gaming at the Olympics. Although it’s nothing more than an idea at this stage, co-president of the Paris 2024 Olympic bid, Tony Estanguet, confirmed in summer 2017 that his team is exploring the possibility of eSports at the Games.
If this happens, it would not only help to put competitive gaming on par with physical sports, but would generate a huge amount of exposure. Even without any of this potential, eSports is still a multimillion dollar industry and the Yankees will certainly benefit from association with one of its leading players.
Having recently sacked long-serving manager Joe Girardi, the team will be looking to bounce back after a poor start to the current MLB season. Although hardcore fans aren’t likely to be swayed by an eSports deal, the investment could prove to be a positive business move that ultimately benefits the franchise as a whole!
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