Humans are intrinsically wired to love competition. All over the world, we have sports stadiums dedicated to watching our favorite teams duke it out over a ball or a net or a race to a finish line. But in 2020, many of us saw stadiums go dark in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving a big gap in the sports entertainment market. That proved to be a boost to one industry that was already on the rise: esports.
What are esports?
Esports — aka electronic sports — are competitions that use video games as their playing field. Picture this: a darkened arena with enormous screens facing every side, fans screaming and cheering as they watch livestreams of professional gamers or teams of gamers battle for victory in any different number of video game genres — from first person shooters (FPS) like Overwatch, to multiplayer online battle arenas like League of Legends and Fortnite, to fighting games like Street Fighter or Super Smash Bros. It has got everything you could think of, including high-dollar sponsorships, tournaments, league play, and famous elite players. What began as competitions among amateurs has, in the past twenty years, became an industry growing at a breakneck pace.
- Digital ad revenue has grown by 37% since just 2018
- Overall revenue is projected to surpass $1 billion for the first time in 2021
- Total viewership is expected to nearly double from 335 million in 2017 to 646 million in 2023
- Jobs in esports grew by 185% in the first six months of 2019
And the industry only continues to expand on its meteoric rise, with the advent of streaming platforms like Twitch bringing more and more people into the fold. The International Olympic Committee has even started considering the possibility of bring esports into the Summer Olympic Games.
What’s involved in esports management?
Just like any other sports industry, esports requires a lot of business-minded people behind the scenes to help manage revenue and advertising, produce and market events, and discover new opportunities for investment and expansion. The biggest chunk of revenue comes from sponsorships and advertising, so those involved in the management side of esports need to be able to market their teams or events and build partnerships that will take them to the next level.
Especially right now, esports management careers require flexibility and adaptability, an aptitude for multitasking, and a willingness to take on a variety of roles in a relatively young field. It also requires people who can think internationally and are comfortable with leveraging a global perspective, since over half of esports viewership (57%) in 2019 was from the Asia-Pacific region. Europe and Latin America are also quickly growing markets, and successful esports management will require being able to effectively interact with and speak to these very different audiences.
How do you get started in esports management?
If you’re interested in making your mark in a dynamic new field, there are a few different paths you can take. Most esports management careers will require a degree from an accredited college or university. Business-centered degrees in fields like marketing and advertising, management, or business administration can potentially get you started with some foundational knowledge, but a better option would be to enroll in a degree program specifically geared toward the industry itself. An eSports Management degree would provide you with coursework covering the current issues, needs, and trends of esports, as well as broader knowledge in areas like marketing and management, so that you’re able to enter the industry with less of a learning curve.
Currently, there are only a handful of higher education institutions in the U.S. that offer esports management degrees. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out one of them here — the Esports Management degree at Salem University — or also contact us to discuss more about this program with one of our academic advisers.