Benchmark This!

Latest Trends Impacting Marketing and Higher Education
from Director of UPCEA's Center for Research and Strategy, Jim Fong

The Rise of a New Entertainment Category: Esports

As I deepen my liberal arts side by reading Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One, it caused me to flashback to my 70s and 80s childhood of videogaming and skateboarding. It also piqued my interest in exploring the impact of today’s esports world and trends in the gaming community. In professional, continuing, and online (PCO) education, one can easily overlook the major cultural changes happening on-campus and online among the general gaming community and with the formation of organized leagues. Esports is much more involved than firing up one’s Xbox or Playstation. It can involve millions of global viewers, sold out arenas, millions in prize money, recruitment and training of teams, and multiple Fortune 500 sponsors. Esports and NASCAR have many parallels (heavy sponsorship, support, prizes, etc.), but also many differences (fan base demographics, equipment). 

According to eMarketer, esports will soon break $200 million in digital advertising revenue. The integration of digital ads within esports events reaches an already fractured content viewing audience of Millennials and Generation Z’ers where traditional television advertising cannot. Goldman-Sachs says the entire esports industry (including event fees, sponsorships, advertising, betting, tournament tickets, merchandise and prize pools) will grow to $2.96 billion in total revenues by 2022. Deloitte also predicts 600 million fans worldwide by 2020. With an industry this new and with such huge revenues, opportunities for higher education are starting to evolve. Marketers and social media professionals will need additional training. Event planners will need to understand their target market better. Equipment manufacturers and software developers will cycle in new products and services to players, viewers, and the gaming community. Colleges and universities are hiring esports managers and coordinators to strengthen the culture for students actively involved in gaming and who deem it essential to attending an institution. For PCO units, there are evolving programming opportunities to develop degrees that will have difficulty keeping pace, thus the potential for alternative credentials, minors or certificates to this budding and mammoth industry.

Read my just-released whitepaper, The Rise of a New Entertainment Category: Esports, here.

Jim Fong, UPCEA

Lead consultant Jim Fong, the founding director of UPCEA’s Center for Research and Strategy, has extensive background in marketing at Penn State, as well as experience in private industry. Jim brings a rich understanding of the dynamics driving today’s higher education leaders, providing research-driven strategy and positioning. Jim often presents at UPCEA’s regional and national conferences, sharing vital information with attendees.

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