Millions of football fans pack into stadiums around the world each week to watch their teams perform, and plenty more are watching on from the comfort of their homes.
However, discussing the Messi vs Ronaldo debate will soon be a thing of the past, as we switch to talking about the feats of Faker and KuroKy over a cold one.
According to a new study by bookmaker Betway, football is soon to be replaced by esports as interest in competitive gaming continues to grow.
The firm has said that esports will have matched the popular of football by 2020, eclipsing the National Basketball League in the process.
The study claims that esports will have amassed 500 million fans within the next two years, overtaking NBA which currently has approximately 400 million fans worldwide.
It is predicted that approximately 11 billion hours of esports content will be being consumed annually by then, with major finals, streamed through platforms like Twitch and YouTube, will attract 70 million viewers.
These numbers would surely attract plenty of brands that are willing to spend on sponsorships for major events and teams. In turn, revenue will be boosted and the scene will only continue to develop.
The growth of esports
According to esports news publication Final Kill, esports became a $1 billion industry in 2017 and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.
Competitive gaming has already seen similar investment to traditional sport. Twitch agreed to pay $90 million for the streaming rights to the Overwatch League, which draws comparisons to the multi-billion pound Premier League broadcasting rights deal.
The new riches on offer in esports is highlighted by the increasing amounts being earned by its biggest stars. One player, Faker of SK Telecom T1, is reportedly worth $4 million as a result of his gaming career.
A Betway spokesperson said:
“A recent downturn in the viewership of major sporting championships such as the NFL, Premier League and the Winter Olympics has shown that the popularity of traditional sports may be on the decline,
“In fact, a recent survey conducted by Limelight revealed that more young men now prefer to watch eSports than traditional sports, with eSports being their second most preferred media source, only behind movies.”