I’ve been a big sports fan my whole life. I grew up in Philadelphia rooting for all of the local teams, played college football and continue to follow sports closely. I live a lot of the time in Nashville right now, and I was hoping to get to one of the recent Stanley Cup Finals games, but the schedule didn’t work out. I wasn’t too interested in paying the extremely high prices either.
It’s hard to beat the thrill of a championship sports event, especially in person but also on television or nowadays online. And that brings us to the next-generation of watching sports. It’s not just advancements in technology that make sports viewing even more easily available, it’s also the sport itself.
I’m talking about the emerging mega-trend of eSports, which is a result of the stunning growth in competitive video gaming. I’ve certainly played some video games in my time, but I must admit the idea of watching other people play them doesn’t quite hold the same appeal to me as sitting in the stands for the Stanley Cup. However, if there’s an opportunity for us to make money in it, I’m there.
And believe me, there is plenty of opportunity. We’re talking elite players being courted to win tens of millions of dollars in competitions with global viewership in the hundreds of millions! For comparison, last year’s Super Bowl drew about 114 million viewers in the U.S. It’s clear that what once could have been laughed off as a fad for video game fanatics has now become an undeniable force.
If you’re a bit skeptical – and I definitely was at first – let me show you exactly what I mean.
Let’s start with the big picture. The eSports market is expected to rise 41% this year to $700 million and hit $1.5 billion by 2020. The growth is driven by the nearly 200 million people that are considered eSports enthusiasts, and when you add in viewership that total is anticipated to jump up to nearly 600 million in the next three years.
My hometown basketball team, the Philadelphia 76ers, recently bought two eSports teams, making it the first North American pro team to buy into this growing field. And in Europe, a number of soccer (or “football”) clubs have digital sports teams as well.
There’s also a Chinese internet company that has mapped out a five-year plan to expand into eSports. The company is talking about everything from leagues and tournaments to ways to develop gaming talent to eSports theme parks.
And an entertainment giant, PMK BNC, has collaborated with Momentum Worldwide to form an eSports and gaming practice. The two companies say brand spending in sponsorship of eSports is expected to grow 57% this year to $263 million. That shows both the growth in this space and also that it’s still in its infancy compared with sponsorship spending in traditional sports.
Making Money in NexGen Sports
The combination of present and future growth, as well as the attractive demographics of the captive audience (mostly millennials and GenXers – an advertisers’ dream), make this NexGen sports craze an intriguing investment opportunity.
Because this developing mega-trend is still in its early stages, there are a variety of ways to make money on it. One angle is the developers that create and publish the games, and another would be the leagues that are created as global competitions continue to grow. The makers of the video game consoles will also stand to benefit as more gamers get involved, not to mention the companies that stream competitions to all of those fans around the world.
Those of you in my NexGen Trader service know that we started at the top of that list last week with a publisher of popular video games. The company has teamed up with the NBA, which is becoming the first major professional sports organization to launch its own eSports league. The recent weakness in tech stocks gave us an exciting opportunity.
We also didn’t waste any time taking advantage of a similar opportunity in both NexGen Investor and NexGen Trader when we added what is considered the largest gaming company in the world. The company’s multi-player game League hit 100 million monthly users last year, and its diverse businesses in social media, e-commerce and other internet ventures help lower the risk of being too dependent on one thing while at the same time still giving the gaming sector enough potential to make an impact on the bottom line.
There are other eSports names on my watch list, and these are among the first of what I expect will be many opportunities – both short and long term – as this trend unfolds. There are a few other companies making a push into the eSports space that I am watching closely, but the gaming sector is still too small a portion of their businesses to move the needle very much. I think we’ll do better finding more pure play companies that can really take advantage of the coming boom.
To stick with the sports angle, I think we’re only in the first inning of this game, and there is a lot of money to be made. Our NexGen system will help us find the best opportunities before they are even on Wall Street’s radar.