What once may have been dismissed as a fringe hobby – watching others play video games – is now a mainstream source of entertainment, and is growing rapidly. In fact, the audience for the League of Legends gaming tournament now exceeds that of the NBA finals… and famous celebrities and professional athletes are becoming owners not just players or actors. Instead of being on the stage or fields, they are buying their way into the owner’s suites.
In a recent article published on CNBC.com it was stated: “Unsurprisingly, the rapid growth of esports, and the vast amounts of money and exposure at stake, has attracted a great amount of interest from investors who want to get in on the action. Even before this year, several big names were already investing in esports companies and teams, including celebrities, athletes and team owners from traditional sports.
Among them: Michael Jordan is a basketball legend and the current principal owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets with a fortune that Forbes estimates is worth nearly $1.7 billion, Mark Cuban, NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, former MLB star Alex Rodriguez, high-profile NFL owners Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones, and celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Drake, Tony Robbins, Jennifer Lopez, Marshawn Lynch, Stan Kroenke, the owner of the St. Louis Rams, Fernando Alonso driver and esports star, Christian Fuchs, Leicester City defender, Premier League winner, Álvaro Arbeloa, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson terrorized the octagon in the UFC, Parker Kligerman NASCAR driver, Zach Hyma, NHL forward, and Evgeni Malkin, another hockey star.”
It appears that industry reports project that they will all be winners again, as Statista projects that: “In 2021, the global eSports market was valued at just over $1.08 billion U.S. dollars. According to the source’s estimates, the global eSports market revenue will reach almost $1.62 billion U.S. dollars in 2024, suggesting that the industry is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. The majority of these revenues come from sponsorships and advertising, and the rest from media rights, publisher fees, merchandise and tickets, digital, and streaming.”