Anybody requiring further proof that eSports’ popularity, and its accompanying betting market, is growing at an unchecked rate need only note the names of the latest three brands to join the movement. The UK’s public broadcaster, the BBC, has signed on the dotted line to show live eSports coverage via its digital platform, BBC3.
All the while, Disney has accepted two major eSports players onto its famed Accelerator Program for 2017 and the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), which owns the world-famous venue of the same name amongst other ventures, has purchased a controlling stake in Counter-Logic Gaming, one of eSports’ trailblazing teams!
The BBC has faced a public outcry in the past few years after losing out on a number of contracts to show live sport as part of a cost-cutting exercise. Purchasing the rights to live eSports is a real sign of intent from the broadcaster to get a foot in the door of this fast-growing sport.
The first broadcast of the Gfinity Elite League on BBC3 is already scheduled for early August. The tournament will last for six weeks, with coverage of Street Fighter V taking place on Friday nights, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on Saturdays and Rocket League on Sundays. BBC3 is a youth-focused platform that centres on content for the young adult market.
While the brand no longer exists as a TV channel in its own right, its programmes can be downloaded and streamed via the Beeb’s online iPlayer service. This isn’t the BBC’s first foray into eSports – it presented live coverage of the League of Legends World Championships back in 2015 – but by scheduling regular programming it has shown a tangible commitment to airing this developing sport on its network.
The Walt Disney Corporation's accelerator program is designed to attract cutting-edge technology brands looking to break through in the realms of media and entertainment. It’s fitting, then, that in 2017 two eSports firms will take their place amongst the eleven companies featured on the scheme.
Epic Games and aXiomatic will have their chance to grow as part of the program, which aims to help ‘today’s technology innovators turn their dreams for new media and entertainment experiences into reality.’ Epic Games are world renowned for excellence after developing the Gears of War console series.
Also, Epic's ‘Unreal Engine’ is used by software developers producing the latest eSports titles. aXiomatic, meanwhile, is an eSports group founded by the NBA’s Golden State Warriors’ co-owner Peter Guber. They are an ownership firm that just last year purchased a stake in legendary eSports outfit, Team Liquid, and which has a number of ongoing interests in the industry.
Over in New York, the MSG Company have purchased one of Team Liquid’s rivals, Counter-Logic Gaming (CLG). The fee is undisclosed but rumoured to be into six figures, with the Madison Square Garden-backed enterprise looking to develop a stable of eSports ventures in the US and beyond. Executive vice president, Jordan Solomon, said:
"As eSports moves toward franchise league models similar to the NBA and NHL, we intend to leverage our knowledge and insight into the business of professional sports to play an active role in the development of this exciting industry."
The benefits to CLG of the link-up are obvious, with merchandising, ticket sales, media rights deals and fan engagement all trademarks of the MSG brand.
As the number of people participating in and watching eSports continues to grow, so too does the interest from the betting community in wagering on the action. Many of the most prominent online bookmakers now offer betting markets across eSports’ most popular games and tournaments, and the numbers stack up to suggest the amount wagered is increasing exponentially.
Sports betting firm Pinnacle announced that in 2016 it had witnessed a rise of 127% in the number of eSports bets it had taken compared to 2015, and this figure rose to 403% when considering in-play betting on eSports tournaments alone. The three key drivers of the increase were:
With such astronomical growth within the sport over just the last few years, it should come as no surprise major brands and industries, including iGaming, have taken notice. There are few online bookmakers not currently featuring odds on the next big eSports event which is pretty insane considering the market only recently started picking up. If you'd like to join the action, check out Bet365's eSports markets today!