eSports: The Fastest Growing Segment of the ‘Sport’ Industry

Mark S. Nagel and Kenny Sugishita

Over the last five years, electronic sports (eSports) have experienced a rapid transformation from niche participant activities to viable, commercial entertainment events. In October 2015, the League of Legends (LoL) World Championship was held at Berlin’s Mercedes Benz Arena. As 13,000 fans watched in the arena, 14 million concurrent viewers observed online, with a total of 36 million viewers watching at least some portion of the championship tournament online (Kresse, 2016). Just five years prior, the 2011 inaugural LoL Championships held in Sweden attracted only 210,000 peak online viewers, with a total 1.6 million viewers throughout the tournament. The LoL World Championship has demonstrated its worldwide appeal with the 2012 and 2013 events being held in front of sellout crowds in Los Angeles and the 2014 event attracting 40,000 customers to the stadium in Seoul, South Korea, once built to host the World Cup.

Open Access