Earlier this year, a staggering 1.3 million people watched NBC’s live stream of the Super Bowl. This doubled the number of people that watched the first Super Bowl live stream in 2012, as the idea of online viewership has entered the mainstream and quickly begun to supersede television.
The popularity of live streaming has not only altered traditional industries, but it has also created new ones. It has laid the foundation for popular casino platforms, for example, which enable simulated live game play within an increasing authentic and lucrative environment.
The rise of e-sports and the Influence of Live and Online Casino
As we can see, the proliferation of live streaming has influenced the way in which people think about media, viewership and gaming. This has heralded the dawn of competitive online gaming, which assumes numerous forms across both virtual platforms and traditional consoles. This includes the rise of e-sports, where classic video gamers gather in a virtual environment to compete in well-organised, professional tournaments.
While e-sports have grown incrementally since the turn of the century, they have exploded since the emergence of live, online casino platforms in 2010. There are now nearly 2,000 professional tournaments hosted around the world on an annual basis, while the fan base has continued to grow beyond all expectations. A staggering 32 million fans watched the Riot Games’ League of Legends online through real-time streaming services, which is more than the combined viewership of the 2014 World Series and NBA Finals.
The lucrative nature of online casino game play has also had a direct influence on e-sports, while underlining the importance of financial incentive for players. This has helped prize money to increase by 70 times since the year 2000, with the rate of growth having exploded during the last five years. In 2014, event organisers and hosts paid out in excess of $35 million in prize money across an estimated 2,000 tournaments, which in turn has encouraged involvement from major corporate sponsors such as Coca Cola.
E-sports, the future and Twitch
At every juncture of the evolution of e-sports, the influence of live streaming services and online casino platforms has been easy to see. This is now more evident than ever before, with live broadcasting resource Twitch making it easier than ever to capture, share and promote professional tournaments. There are more than 100 million viewers that watch video game play and live tournaments each month through Twitch, for example, with this number expected to reach 145 million by 2017.
Last year, the premier e-sports competition The International drew an estimated 8.5 million simultaneous viewers through Twitch in real time, giving it an audience share to match the decisive game of the 2014 Stanley Cup finals. This statistic is one that underlines the dramatic rise of e-sports, while it also showcases the influence of competitive online gaming and rapidly improving live streams. With technology likely to improve and become more accessible, we can expect cross-platform gaming to also impact on the market in 2016.