Are eSports real sports?
ESPN signed a deal this week with video-game company Activision Blizzard. The deal gives ESPN the TV rights to popular action game Overwatch.
The deal will put Overwatch on many channels, including ABC, ESPN, and ESPN 2. The upcoming Overwatch League playoffs will mark the first time that an eSport has aired on ABC and the first time ESPN will broadcast an eSport during primetime, which is a huge deal in both cases. Disney Executive Vice President Justin Connolly had this to say about the acquisition:
The Overwatch League Grand Finals is by far our most comprehensive television distribution for an eSports event over a single weekend.
And this isn’t a rash move for Disney, either. When a “League of Legends” competition was broadcasted last year, 360 million people watched, which is over three times as many as the 2017 Super Bowl (!!!). In fact, eSports are growing so rapidly in popularity that the International Olympic Committee has actually considered adding eSports to the Olympics.
Games like Fortnite and PubG have become incredibly popular among people ages 18-35. In April, popular gamer Ninja broke his own streaming record playing Fortnite, gaining over 667,000 concurrent viewers while he played. Athletes and musicians like Drake, Travis Scott, and Juju Smith-Schuster also played Fortnite often in the first half of this year, which helped increase its popularity.
eSports have never been considered to be real “sports” because they lack physicality. However, as they continue to rise in popularity and generate revenue, this societal norm could change.
Featured image via Flickr/BagoGames