Rick Fox believes the international nature of esports’ League of Legends will mean it surpasses the popularity and viewership of the Superbowl, and soon.
Fox, whose team Echo Fox is now valued at over $100 million alongside at least twelve other esports companies, told TMZ:
“As much as we love football in North America, it’s not international to the level of gaming, League of Legends is a huge global event.”
Fox himself is a former professional basketball player with a thirteen-year NBA career behind him. He’s led the Echo Fox League of Legends team in the North American franchise for eight seasons. He adds:
“It’s already got numbers right below the Super Bowl so it’s coming … it grows every year.”
The multi-millionaire echoed FaZe Clan co-founder FaZe Banks who told TMZ there will be an esports event that will have a bigger audience than the Super Bowl. Banks says it’s a matter of time before video games “wreck” all of entertainment, he adds:
“It’s gonna get crazy. I think its gonna get more crazy online than it is in the actual real world. But, it’s gonna take everything over. It’s gonna get big.”
Fox says esports is growing massive stars with global appeal, like League of Legend icon Faker from South Korea. Fox sees him as the Michael Jordan of gaming. He also points to esports online nature breaking down borders:
“Everything is so online now, technology has unlocked the ability for those people in foreign countries, or regardless of where you are in the world, to connect.”
TMZ puts the Superbowl at more than 100 million viewers each year and the League of Legends Championships at 99.6 million. Other statistics put the League of Legends Worlds at 100 million unique online viewers and surpassing last year’s Superbowl with 98 million viewers. For the Superbowl it was the events lowest viewer numbers since 2008. For the League of Legends Worlds in 2019 the numbers of peak viewers, average viewers, and hours watched were all up. The final broke Twitch streaming records, previously held by Fortnite’s “The End.”
Esports Versus Traditional Sports
Visual Capitalist compared esports and traditional sports back in September saying, “esports has evolved from an underground culture into a mainstream industry worth billions today.”
It says the two forms of sport are difficult to compare as they have different origins, growth trajectories, and viewing mediums, however both are competing for the same audience.
An infographic from Visual Capitalist puts esports global audience at an estimated 194 million for 2019. It says the Superbowl in 2019 achieved 98.2 million viewers and the Baseball World Series 14 million, but that Formula 1’s 2018 TV and digital viewership reached 490 million. And, that League of Legends tournaments “in particular” achieve “higher viewership than some of the biggest U.S sports leagues.” In addition, esports’ 16 to 24-year-old audience demographic has increased by 60% since 2017, fuelling growth.
Esports net worth is rising rapidly. In the past 5 years the industry has seen compound growth (CAGR) of 38% leading many to be extremely positive about future massive growth. Visual Capitalist puts esports predicted audience at an estimated 276 million for 2022, prize pools at an estimated $413 million, and the commonly cited Goldman Sachs prediction of esports revenue at $3 billion by 2022. It also says traditional sports companies are “capitalizing” on the industry’s potential growth, like Nike’s sponsorship of the League of Legends Pro League in China.
Esports is certainly beginning to surpass, and in some cases already surpasses, the popularity of traditional sports. There is also immense potential for synergy with other sectors of interest to Millennials and Generation Z who are fast becoming the largest consumer groups. Cryptocurrency and blockchain is one industry that’s becoming increasingly intertwined with gaming, offering mutual benefits for further growth on both sides.
Image courtesy of Mezcalent / Echo Fox