Esports Opportunities During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Overview

Introduction

The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has shaken the world as we know it. China has locked down many of its cities, Spain is in a full country lockdown, governments are scrambling to stabilize the economy, events are being cancelled all over the globe, but most importantly the stores all over North America are depleting their supplies of TOILET PAPER (how are we going to possibly survive without toilet paper!!!)

This is the toilet paper aisle at Target in the United States of America on March 14th, 2020 as panic of the pandemic and the race to stock pile toilet paper in fear that supplies will run out

For me personally, I had several tournaments that I was supposed to run in the coming months, including the grand-final to the LC PUBG Mobile Open Series, the Lambton Esports Open, Wingman and Wings: CS:GO Duos Tournament and an experimental Clash Royale tournament. Thanks to all the local events being cancelled in Ontario, I have been forced to stop all my projects.

But I do not see this pandemic as a negative, in fact I believe it is the complete opposite, the coronavirus may act as a catalyst not only to create a more online-focused world but also to explode its success, exposure and acceptance of esports.

Thanks to the increased time gained by individuals staying at home, being restricted and losing some time consuming their responsibilities, new and small streamers have the chance to grow, esports organizers will develop bigger fanbases and sports networks may start broadcasting more esports.

How Could the Coronavirus Create More Opportunities in Esports?

People are getting a lot of free time due to several reasons; The world partly going into lockdown, some people going into quarantine, some people fearfully deciding to stay home as much as possible and some people simply are saving time from removing transportation from their daily lives as work and school goes online. While people have excess time and are losing the ability to travel, they need things to do while at home.

For some, that means working on your side project, learning a new talent or trick, spending more time with your family or binge-watch Netflix. But many will also play that new video game, grind the ranks of their favourite video game, and watch some streamers on twitch and view professional esport competitions.

Viewing sports on the other hand is becoming less of an option as sport events are getting cancelled and stopping production in attempts to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. As a result, sport networks are losing content which was meant to be broadcasted and they will need to determine how to will cope with it.

To best benefit from these opportunities, you will need to understand the context around the situation, and you need to focus your efforts on benefiting from it specifically

New and Old Streamers will Grow

Since many students gain an abundance of free time, streamers will most benefit from this virus. Not only is this a great opportunity for someone who is interested in attempting streaming, but also for small-growing streamers to quickly build up a fan base.

This graphic clearly shows the spike in viewer base on Twitch.tv at the start of the panic around the pandemic in North America. There was a sudden spike of +19.9% increase from the week prior that also saw a slow rise of +5.2%.

That being said, as platforms like Twitch and Mixer will gain traffic of their own, new and small streamers will not benefit from this traffic. As a streamer who wants a career, or make some side cash, you need to put a lot of effort into your marketing to drive traffic.

As a new or small streamer, your goal is to drive individuals who are not big into streaming or are getting bored with their current list of activities to drop by your stream. Many people will be experiencing an unexpected spike in free-time, and as a result they will not know what to do.

You must do everything in your power to advertise to those individuals, people who are concerned about the virus but also unsure of what to do with their time. I talk more about how to market yourself as a streamer on this article (COMING SOON).

I would recommend holding off from a huge marketing campaign, but start preparing it, and execute it when the US starts to reach its peak danger and starts closing down parts of cities. They may not go that far, so you will need to make assessments of where the situation is at and act accordingly as a marketer and business professional.

At the same time, you need to remember that there will be a bunch of people streaming due to all their free time. Make sure you reach the people who would most enjoy your content and do the things that will make you stand out (article on how to stand out as a streamer COMING SOON).

Even though the viewer base had an increase of 19.9%, the streamer base saw a larger spike of +28.6%.

Tournament Organizers’ Opportunities

It is true that esport events are getting cancelled left and right to move to online competition. But that is exactly why this is a major opportunity for many tournament organizers. Although there are some giants for online remote tournaments, the space for smaller tournaments is very open and this is exactly where avid tournament participants will go for their share of events for the coming weeks.

Additionally, during times like these, there is no doubt that a lot of people will use there newly found abundance of time to grind out on certain games and the player bases for games will grow. More gamers equal more prospective participants for your next tournament.

Not to mention that a large number of people that are working or attending school from home will be better equipped to modify their own schedule in order to attend tournaments they are interested in.

Clearly there is a major opportunity here (I already created an event page for my first online PUBG Mobile tournament limited to Ontarians), but the question remains of how to best capitalize on it.

This is the front page for our Ontario Online PUBG Mobile Series (also known as OOPS).

The most important tool is marketing, a lot of people are just not aware of such tournaments and when they become aware, they will be quick to jump on the bandwagon. Utilize as many channels as you can while ensuring its your tournament specifically that they are interested in.

However, what many people struggle with while creating online tournaments is brand loyalty. As you advertise your tournament, they will realize online tournaments exist and will start looking at all the other options. It is important to create a Discord server, Facebook Group or another means to directly interact with people. Then you need to INTERACT! People will want to come back to your tournament over others’ because YOU run it. Building relationships is key to success in almost any business.

As you build a loyal fanbase, they will become apart of your brand identity, and as such others will come back to your tournaments because of the others that do and they like those people. It is a continuous chain, but you will need to ensure you continuously put effort to build relationships with as many people as you can to ensure prosperity.

Another opportunity for tournament organizers is more views on their event streams. With more viewers, it generates the larger potential for sponsors. This proves challenging for new streamers with no brand name or pre-recorded content, as this is usually an organic process (with some tactical effort required from the tournament organizers). But to jump-start your fanbase, you should advertise your tournament stream as the best of the best from that specific game are facing off for some crazy prize (or somewhere between those lines). Also, check out “How to Get More Viewers for Esport Tournament Stream?” (COMING SOON) to best capitalize on this opportunity.

Broadcasting Large Tournaments on Sport Networks

Are you an organizer for a large esport tournament or event and have been considering making the ask to sports networks? Although this may seem to be too short of a period to make that transition, many sport network channels are trying to figure out how they will cope with all the sports events getting cancelled. This has created a pocket of opportunities to create a temporary agreement to broadcast your event on television.

The NBA, NHL, MLS and MLB has indefinitely suspended their games due to the fear of spreading COVID-19 

This could be a good time for sports networks to also experiment with esport tournaments since they will not have the chance to broadcast sport games anyways. This could be a golden pitch, especially if the network has not derived a contingency plan at this point.

For most tournaments this will be a major struggle, to negotiate a deal with the network, coordinate the changes with sponsors, and (if it is an exclusivity deal) to communicate with your fanbase and hope you do not lose many of them along the way. As a business owner, its your responsibility to calculate the return on investment and its potential for growth. It may be possible that being broadcasted on TV is not what it is all cracked up to be.

This option could be the potential to reduce some of the losses from transitioning your event to online by reaching a larger audience. It is up to you to make that call, but do not be surprised to see some esport tournaments on sports networks in the coming weeks.

Conclusion

As someone who is a huge advocate of the esport industry and who strives to cultivate the esport industry in Canada, I know that the coronavirus, COVID-19, will act as a catalyst for the industry. Stop wasting your time looking for toilet paper and start developing your online tournament, your stream or new business relations while this opportunity only starts to develop. I am looking forward to seeing how much the esport industry changes after this pandemic. Now if excuse me, I am going to go wash my hands.

Bonus: A Major Struggle for Esports During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Besides the fact that live esport events will not be able to operate during this time period, the esport industry will struggle with a much larger issue during this time period and I personally am unsure how the industry as a whole will cope with the situation.

This issue is the fact that sponsors will stop sponsoring events to preserve their company. Sponsorship is a marketing expense, and marketing is not essential to a business’s survival. As the economy starts to dip and people stop buying stuff, sponsors will have to cut back from sponsoring esport events.

Moreover, as people start buying less, sponsors will see less of a return-on-investment from sponsoring as a whole during this time period.

However, since physical events and sports will not be able to operate during this time period, the companies that are looking to sponsor will have a very few select options.

I personally am unsure if there will even be companies that want to sponsor during the worst of the COVID-19 situation. I would love to hear from all of you in the comments of if you think there will be sponsors.

I will also provide an update article to provide information of how the pandemic plays out and the outcome of esports as a whole.