My top 2022 sports and games trends to watch

Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of the editors or editors of Rolling Stone.

Despite occasional outliers, such as Activision’s $ 160 million deal with YouTube, media deals for esports broadcast and streaming rights have fallen behind in both audience scale, value to viewers, and the kind of very expensive deals that have become common in mainstream sports. In fact, traditional sports media rights agreements have never been higher. I expect this to change in 2022. Why?

Streaming companies are now in the live sports business. From Amazon and Twitch to HBO Max and Showtime, sport is evolving behind streaming paywalls. This is driven not only by the acceleration of cord cutting, but also by streamers who see user retention and the anti-churn value that live sports can bring to their platforms. I believe their data shows the increase in incomes, and they have the money and the public assessments to write the checks.

Also, as the overall ratings – and the demographics of 18-34 year olds in particular – decline, linear outlets often don’t have the same economic power to pay what it takes now to keep the rights. sportspeople in renewal negotiations.

Live sport, in general, is experiencing a valuation bubble moment. In 2021, the NFL negotiated more $ 100 billion in media rights agreements. Even Bowlero, the operator of the bowling facilities, saw a huge peak in valuation at $ 2.6 billion in a PSPC deal in 2021. From my point of view, there is no outcome where esports does not take advantage of this sparkling market – if only for the sole reason that it seems ‘cheap’ today to lock down a property. leading esports market in comparison.

Here are the top sports and gaming trends that we’ll likely see develop in 2022:

1. Increased investment and involvement of celebrities in esports

The esports industry has the potential to gain even more attention from celebrities, athletes and high net worth individuals. On the heels of Roc Nation Sports, owned by Jay-Z, Eonxi, whose investors include NBA star Spencer Dinwiddie, and even Netflix entering the industry, I expect this trend to continue. continues as the game sinks even deeper into mainstream media consumption. Sponsorship revenue could be the biggest money generator in esports over the coming year, potentially representing more than 30% of total turnover, which means that the benefits of being involved in the esports market become substantial and more like traditional sports.

2. Live Events Return to High GDP Countries

As the pandemic has strained the ecosystems of live sports and esports for more than a year, vaccinations, proven Covid-19 protocols, and fans’ desire to return to events in person could bring back fans, ticket revenue, site revenue, and sponsorship dollars in 2022 This trend may not extend to the second and third world. However, the bulk of sports revenue comes largely from first world markets where ticket prices, merchandise, food and drink, and media rights values ​​can be maximized.

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3. Increased integration of non-endemic and luxury brands

To respond to this common passion among 18-34 year olds – a generation on the whole not very involved in traditional media – luxury, travel, fintech and other brands are launching into sport and esport to strengthen the commitment and the brand. preference.

Crypto.com signed a $ 175 million deal with the UFC soon after signing a $ 100 million deal with Formula 1. FTX naming rights purchased at the Miami Heat’s home for $ 135 million. Side games, Vans and Gucci have set up stores in gaming metavers and Louis Vuitton created the trophy case for the League of Legends Esports Championship and also made a capsule collection with publisher Riot Games.

It comes after several years of record companies and artists using game worlds for virtual concert appearances and promotions. Expect all of this to accelerate rapidly in 2022.

4. A shift to mobile engagement first

Sport has traditionally been centered around the “big screen” experience. High-end game consoles not only serve as a platform for playing games, but also for watching Netflix and more. Even many vertical gaming rigs have been based on a PC with a larger monitor.

Today, with advancements in the processing power and battery life of mobile devices, accelerated by cutting cables and the rise of mobile-centric culture, the mobile device is occupying a prominent place. powerhouse in sports and games. Clever games recently released NFL Clash as a global mobile game. Overall, many mobile esports games have seen an increase in audience in 2021, with a renewed focus on strengthening engagement in the West.

5. Data could fuel new forms of income

Just as data has driven the explosive growth of digital advertising, data could unlock massive new revenue streams in sports and esports. From third-party betting and fantasy platforms like FanDuel and Draft Kings to first-party data like PFL “SmartCage” technology In MMA, the data could help fans gauge player performance and earn income from their fandom, thereby increasing engagement and participation.

Today’s young fan understands metadata and enjoys the interaction of data on their digital devices. If sports and games move to an ARPU and a lifetime value model, data will drive the rigidity. Organizations that leverage data will simply be more successful at retaining and engaging their fans. The smartest gaming and sports brands will share the new monetization pool with their biggest fans.

6. Educational opportunities in the game contribute to the legitimacy of the general public

Parents used to tell their kids to go to college for a backup career when told their kid wanted to pursue a professional gaming career as a gamer, designer, or game developer. Today, those same children can point fingers at dozens of degree programs, new laboratories and publisher partnerships in some of the best schools in the United States At the same time, console makers, publishers, venture capitalists and others are investing in educational ecosystems around gaming and esports.

Along with these trends, on the whole, there will be bigger awards for professional players and more opportunities for them to be successful in securing sponsorship and media deals outside of their endemic worlds.

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