While many traditional sporting events have been cancelled or put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, ‘virtual’ races, online events and streamers have now come to the forefront and are providing much needed competitive action for sports fans around the world.
Formula 1 has launched its F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series to replace postponed races and some of the sports favourite drivers are now competing online. Drivers join remotely via the internet and all play online using the official F1 2019 video game through PC and racing car setup at home. The races run for about 1hr 30mins accompanied by full commentary which are streamed via Twitch, YouTube, Sky Sports, Facebook and F1.com so fans can get involved, comment and interact in real time and enjoy all the action.
The F1 races feature a host of tv stars, celebrities and retired and rookie F1 drivers which will only add to the fun and excitement for fans. Of course, these races command no championship points but with the talk of exhibition races on the cards, where fans can take on drivers virtually, Esport races could really be exposed to some great coverage over the coming months.
Approximately 400 to 500 million people watch Esports globally. That’s more than HBO, Netflix, Hulu and ESPN viewers combined. The industry is growing fast and is expected to surpass $190 billion in revenues by 2022. As a result, many owners of traditional sports teams are also investing in this space.*
With such a growth in this area, advertising and sponsorship is becoming a great opportunity for other companies, offering massive brand exposure to an audience of like-minded individuals. Big brands like Red Bull and Mountain Dew sponsor Esport teams such as OG, Immortals and SK Gaming who play a number of high profile games in tournaments which are watched by thousands on digital streaming services. YouTube, Facebook and Twitch are perfect platforms for this content, and this is where PPC and sponsored advertising is still a really effective way of targeting a mass audience.
Some tech companies like Corsair and IGN have gone even further and now support top streamers and Esport players by providing them with new equipment direct from source to make sure they remain on the top of their game. Streamers give shout-outs and honest reviews and feedback to their followers about the products live on air, which people trust. Based on these reviews companies hope followers will then go and buy the same equipment for their own personal gaming setups and streams.
This is a new and exciting virtual world coming online for those willing to take a chance on Esports. Those who do could be onto a winner.