• Prosiebensat1, Nielsen Sports and MediaKind tell of “huge” esports potential
  • VoD to play vital role in the growth of esports 
  • Almost a quarter of US, UK and German fans are new to esports this year

Counter Strike esports St Petersburg 2017 credit Roman Kosolapov Shutterstock

Esports collaboration: Now is the time for broadcasters says panel 

Source:  Roman Kosolapov Shutterstock

With its rapidly expanding fanbase of young, digital-first viewers, esports is a sector the broadcaster industry should invest in while they still can, according to Prosieben’s eSports head, Henrik Nyhuis.

Speaking at Tuesday morning’s ’Opportunities in Esports’ session, the Ran esports boss revealed the broadcaster regularly attracted 150,000 viewers to its esports content (“good figures for the German speaking market”), including a TV broadcast of the Virtual Bundesliga.

“We think it’s important to license content and be a part of it and shape the market and we’ve seen very strong growth in terms of viewship,” Nyhuis told IBC2019 delegates.

Rather than taking viewers away from games streaming platforms such as Twitch, Prosiebensat1’s esports business - which reaches a more generalist audience than gamers - is contributing to the overall growth of the market, Nyhuis argued.

He added however, that some education in terms of the rules and tournaments was necessary for new viewers.

Nyhuis likened it to other sports the German broadcaster has introduced, such as its now thriving American College Football content “It’s about growing with the sport,” he added.

And now is exactly the right time for broadcasters to grow with esports audiences, according to Nielsen Sport’s executive vice president Lars Stegelmann,.

During the session he revealed that almost a quarter of US, UK and German fans are new to esports and have only started following tournaments in the last year.

Nielsen - which first started scoping the esports market three years ago, predicts the market will grow further as non-endemic brands including McDonalds, Amazon, Visa and Honda sign up for sponsorship deals.

MediaKind vice president of portfolio strategy Carl Furgusson added that the market would also get more professional and sophisticated technology wise which would enhance the viewing experience.

Furgusson predicted that the genre would embrace 360 video - particularly for clips shared on social as well as a growth in VoD for esports: “Right now the most popular platform for catch up isn’t Twitch it’s YouTube,” he added

Nyhuis agreed that, with so many tournaments going on in esports, even the broadcaster’s mid-week highlight show coudn’t cover everything.

“VoD will definitely become far more important in this sector,” he added.

Looking to the future, Lars Stegelmann thinks individual players will also become far more important in terms of influence and sponsorship deals and he revealed that Nielsen is undertaking a big study in this area.

With all this growth, one audience member asked whether anyone in esports (other than the games publishers) was actually making any money. Nyhuis simply replied: “It’s a growth market, and in a growth market you have to invest.”

Furgusson, meanwhile, pointed out that the biggest platforms in the market – Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft all now own esports platforms “…and that’s probably a good sign that broadcasters should be investing too,” he added.