eSports is a fast-growing industry and a Germany-based company, ESL Gaming, is driving the industry.

Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM), the longest-running global pro gaming circuit in the world, celebrated the climactic finale of its 11th season as it returned to Katowice, Poland for the 2017 World Championship. The world’s best teams, including champions from IEM Oakland 2016 and IEM Gyeonggi 2016, faced off on the main stage of the Spodek Arena for a prize pool of $650,000 in three of the top eSports titles: Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), League of Legends, and StarCraft® II.

Most think the events garner a few thousand attendees. Most would not expect them to be more popular that the Superbowl but the finale of the 2017 World Championship (Intel® Extreme Masters) in Katowice, Poland just set a new record for live attendance – more than 173,000 attendees – that’s about 100,000 more than the Superbowl last year.

Along with 173,000 fans attending the stadium event and surrounding festival over the course of two weekends, the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship 2017 reached more than 46 million unique online viewers, a 35% growth from last year’s event.

The event was the most broadcasted event in ESL’s history, with 70 linear and digital partners worldwide who produced and distributed content in 19 languages. Through live streams, highlight clips, and custom features on both Twitter and Facebook, the World Championship reached 55 million fans on social media channels, shattering last year’s reach of approximately 30 million.

Impressive considering the youth of the industry but also a huge testament to its’ potential. This wasn’t what most interested me when the figures hit my inbox. Instead, what interested me was the unique online viewers. The Intel Extreme Masters World Championship 2017 reached more than 46 million unique online viewers. To put that figure in context, per Nielsen, the Trump inauguration TV audience was 30.6 million.

Intel didn’t get there alone; 70 linear and digital partners produced and distributed content worldwide in 19 languages. This is a money making operation. 46 million represents a year over year increase of 35% for Intel – a similar figure is being seen across the board – interest is booming in eSports and it is not hard to see why. Per Business Insider, eSports will be a billion-dollar industry this year and it doesn’t show many signs of stopping as more and more people become aware of the events and fanbases grow. The +$650,000 prize posts can’t hurt to grab people’s attention either.

Marketers should see dollar signs in their eyes as loyal fans are brand loyal. 74% of the industry is sponsorship and advertising compared to 9% being prize money (Business Insider). Brands have a huge opportunity to connect with fans at events and also through multiple global digital and linear distribution partners. Beyond this, virtual opportunities are growing too with +260% growth in VR broadcast popularity and engagement. SLIVER.tv created a new virtual

Brands have a huge opportunity to connect with fans at events and also through multiple global digital and linear distribution partners. Beyond this, virtual opportunities are growing too with +260% growth in VR broadcast popularity and engagement. SLIVER.tv created a new virtual

SLIVER.tv created a new virtual eSports stadium experience – an immersive 360° VR space that includes live stats, replays, and scores in real-time. +340,000 unique viewers tuned into the VR broadcast – that’s a huge opportunity for brands. The question isn’t ‘should we have an esports strategy?’ but ‘what is our eSports strategy?’.

Source and first seen at: ESL Gaming, Forbes

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