My recent blog posts have covered the digital disruption in the football industry and the digital revolution in sports media ecology in women’s football. In continuation of this, this blog is going to analyse the effect of eSports on the football industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
eSports is set to become one of the fastest growing industries due to recent digital development within the 21st century. Wagner defines eSports as “an area of sports activities where people develop and train mental or physical abilities in the use of information and communication technologies” (Wagner, 2007:182). These are forms of games which are played electronically, normally being streamed online, allowing eSports fans to watch. With the recent pandemic causing a stop to the sporting industry between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, the rise of participation in eSports has increased, resulting in
consumer engagement increasing in growth (Seen in Figure 1). Consumers can have access to elite competition and content through technology, allowing individuals to engage with sporting platforms, whilst maintaining social distancing regulations. FIFA have created a website where this is accessible for the footballing industry (https://www.fifa.gg/) where consumers can place their craft consumption into play (Hasan, 2020; Jenny et al., 2017; FIFA., 2021).
|0.92 Billion||1.28 Billion||2.89 Billion|
It has been said that FIFA is going to adopt a new commercial positioning in the gaming and eSports industry to ensure that it is best placed to make decisions that benefit all football stakeholders. In the near future, FIFA have spoken that the virtual sporting world and physical competitions must work in a tighter network by utilising both genders in the World Cup to provide consumers with additional platforms for engagement through the eFIFA (FIFA, 2021)
Throughout the pandemic, the most popular esports platform was known as Twitch and its average concurrent viewers has increased by 31% since 2020 (Twitch, 2021). Research has proven that playing and streaming video games has many benefits, such as providing opportunities for competitive play, problem solving, diversion, fantasy play, and social interactions, which are all elements of the traditional game (Przybylski et al., 2010). Through this, the eSports industry is more abled than others, in that increased user-generated content and engagement allows certain players to benefit from this, yet it is thought to not be maintainable (Hasan, 2020).
Spain’s La Liga swapped their football boots for consoles during the pandemic, electing a player from each team to compete in an eSports competition engrossing over 60,000 viewers (Project 111, 2021). On the other hand, within league two in the Champions league, Leyton Orient FC announced via twitter using the hashtag #UltimateQuaranTeam asking professional clubs to partake in the FIFA 20 competition, reaching over 120 participants in the hope for providing alternative entertainment for fans during the pandemic.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!