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News From Olympic Committee Promising For eSports

E-Sports as a trend that’s peaked has egg on their face in light of a big announcement in October from the International Olympic Committee.

Anyone writing off the rise of eSports as a trend that’s peaked has egg on their face in light of a big announcement in October from the International Olympic Committee. The statement suggests some of the world’s biggest sports institutions, from broadcasters to global sporting events, believe in the staying power of eSports and their continued growth.

The IOC has finally released a statement on its expectations for including eSports as an Olympic event, and while it may be some time away, the framework is there. There are two key expectations for the inclusion of eSports:

•    The Olympic Committee expects to work with an international governing body for eSports
•    The content of eSports must be in line with Olympic values, which is a strong sign the IOC will want some say in which games may be included 

The statements come after an IOC summit in Lausanne, Switzerland, where national committees and federations discuss the future of the Olympic Games. They singled out eSports for its growth in recent years, especially with younger demographics. As Olympic viewership tumbles in the United States and a movement among global cities to stop bidding for the games gains traction, the IOC is likely looking for ways to pump new energy into the games.

The news comes after a great year for eSports’ entrance into the mainstream. At the start of the year, ESPN began broadcasting FIFA tournaments across its channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, and online ESPN3. In the summer, NBC announced the launch of a Rocket League tournament to be broadcast online, with the finals broadcast live on TV airwaves on NBCSN.

These are still small steps compared to conventional sports, which have over one hundred million viewers in the U.S. and saw 127,000 hours of broadcast time in 2015. It’s safe to say that eSports won’t eclipse the Super Bowl any time soon, but tournaments are their own multi-million-dollar industry – and the viewership numbers online are impressive.

Data collected by Newzoo on the most watched eSports games on Twitch show some insight into why major broadcasters are eager to get in on the action. In September 2017, nearly 20 million hours were spent watching League of Legends eSports content, while the next-most-watched game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive had 14.6 million hours. Meanwhile, prize money for tournaments is reaching record highs; with over 800 tournaments and nearly $128 million in prize money on offer, Dota 2 is the most highly awarded eSport game, while League of Legends players compete for nearly $44 million in over 1900 tournaments.

Those numbers should only creep upward as eSports broadcasting revenue goes up and audiences grow. It also means more audience members are going to want to buy video games online, which is always good news for studios.

The rise of eSports isn’t slowing down any time soon. With broadcasters already interested in televising eSports and the IOC making overtures to the global gaming world that they could find themselves in the Olympics with the right institutional organization, eSports are coming into their own.
 

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