Professional gaming has yet to really catch on in a major way here in the US, and while I don’t think that is going to change much, hearing that the recent League of Legends live event had 17,000+ viewers watching is an impressive number. I’m not sure what that kind of viewership is worth in terms of advertising, but I would imagine it’s not insignificant.
In many ways LoL fits the mold in terms of the ideal e-sport product. The game is ‘free’, so anyone interesting after watching can download the game and jump right in. Additionally, it’s not difficult for an outsider to watch a match and understand the basics and ‘catch on’ to what is happening. At 30-60min in length, the games are not too long, and with proper commentating, they can be both very entertaining and educational for new and current players alike.
The benefit of something like this catching on and becoming a secondary source of income for Riot is somewhat obvious. More money = more devs = more content for the players. Plus if the source of income becomes substantial enough, the ‘burden’ of relying on the item shop lessens, meaning more free content or reduced prices overall. Finally even if the advertising money is minimal, the exposure for the game and the hype generated from a quality set of matches will results in new players hearing about the game and becoming interested.
With more events already planned, and with LoL still growing at a surprising pace (this recent event topped StarCraft 2 in popularity), this is one area to keep an eye on to see what happens. It’s certainly one opportunity for growth, especially as gaming continues to cut into TV viewership, and more and more people in general are exposed to the hobby. It’s not unreasonable to assume that just like most kids today can relate to baseball/basketball/football, shortly (if not already) most will better able to relate to gaming is a sport or source of entertainment.
Chuck is off today, sorry.