Esports and the Premier League: Why are Clubs Starting to Take Notice?

By in Gaming, Governance

Tuesday 6th November 2018  

Harry Frazer – Multimedia Sports Journalism Student

Esports is growing rapidly, and it has not taken long for big organisations to start taking notice. FIFA, one of the biggest football games out at the moment developed by Electronic Arts Sports (EA Sports), draws in pools of people to watch people play each other in a football match to determine who the best is.

The FIFA eWorld Cup tournament this past year saw the winner of the competition take home a staggering $250,000 in prize money.  There is big money in these tournaments, however in the Premier League, only Manchester City and West Ham United have an Esports player. But with the start of the ePremier League kicking off in January, and with all 20 clubs participating, will clubs invest a lot of time and resources into this new phenomenon?

The popularity of the sport, as well as the potential revenue makes Esports look lucrative. Data from market researcher Newzoo saw that by the end of 2018, revenues in Esports could hit $905 million, something that just cannot be ignored by big organisations.

Matthew Lewins, an up and coming Esports player for Team Sprite, was asked whether big organisations should invest in Esports;

“I think that organisations should invest in Esports is because of the increase in mainstream attention it’s getting, especially in terms of broadcasting. Whereas in the past Esports has been streamed on Twitch and on MLG, now it’s being broadcast on ESPN.

“There comes a lot more advertising, which means a lot more money which investors are ultimately looking for. They are looking to get a return on that investment and they can only do that if the mainstream media focusses more on it.”

When asked about the ePremier League and what it could mean for clubs, Lewins said;

“You’re going to have a Chelsea eTeam, a Manchester United eTeam that creates a sort of identity for a team, that’s going to be good for these sorts of teams and is going to create a lot of buzz around it especially if like actual football teams advertise it and incorporate it into their branding.

“Anyone who follows the Premier League knows how a team like Manchester United uses branding opportunities, so I think we can see a lot of that working hand in hand between the eClubs and the actual clubs.”

Lewins continued that if the ePremier League is a success, the possibility of teams lower than the Premier League could make themselves an Esports team to generate good flow of income;

“Esports is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and it is so accessible that the opportunities for these small teams, especially in League 2, the money they could generate from having that sort of extra brand and extra income could be massive.”

The inaugural ePremier League Final, which will be held from the 28th-29th March in London, will also be featured on Sky Sports, and with teams abroad like all of the clubs in Eredivisie, AS Roma of Serie A and Schalke of the Bundesliga, is it now finally time the Premier League finally took notice?