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New Threat To Traditional Sports Leagues: Millennials Prefer Watching eSports (venturebeat.com) 189

Professional sports leagues "officially have a millennial problem," writes VentureBeat, citing some interesting findings from L.E.K. Consulting.
  • 40% of millennials prefer watching esports to traditional sports
  • 26% of millennial eSports enthusiasts reported a significant uptick in eSports viewing over the past year
  • 61% of esports followers said they spent less time watching TV over the past 12 months, and 45% said they had cut back on traditional sports viewing
  • Together millennials -- ages 17-34 -- and Generation Z peers -- age 16 and under -- comprise 45% of America's consumer base

"At a certain point, this comes down to a new form of media better serving an upcoming generation of consumers," concludes VentureBeat. "Esports leagues are all online. Most matches stream for free on sites like Twitch. They are available on the web or through smartphone apps. Competitive gaming is easily accessible, and it lives where Millennials are already spending their time."

Maybe that's why Major League Baseball's video streaming company recently paid $300 million for the right to stream League of Legends through 2023.


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New Threat To Traditional Sports Leagues: Millennials Prefer Watching eSports

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  • by ThomasBHardy ( 827616 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @02:28PM (#54547119)

    "Together millennials -- ages 17-34 -- and Generation Z peers -- age 16 and under -- comprise 45% of America's consumer base"

    Whats the entertainment spending power of that group as a percentage compared to others?

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @02:40PM (#54547179)

      Depends mostly on their parents' income and how much of it they let them squander.

      • by SeattleLawGuy ( 4561077 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @05:44PM (#54547923)

        Depends mostly on their parents' income and how much of it they let them squander.

        Not entirely, though. Kids grow up, and they continue to game as adults, and will likely continue to watch some eSports. eSports also sell games in a serious way.

        It's also a business, and while you still have some fly-by-night operations and problems, it's definitely beginning to grow up. Professional players are beginning to realize they shouldn't just trust whatever deal they are offered will be fair, for example. At least some of them are.

        • We're in the end still talking about watching people play video games. Unless they are WAY more interesting than the average "Let's play" on YouTube, I fail to see the appeal.

          • We're in the end still talking about watching people play video games. Unless they are WAY more interesting than the average "Let's play" on YouTube, I fail to see the appeal.

            Sure, but people enjoy different forms of entertainment, and enough people enjoy this that it is now a business model.

            And while it may be more interesting than the *average* let's play on youtube, a lot of it is a streaming sport. Having your own personal stream as well as contractually playing on the team stream for a certain time each day is normal.

          • I fail to see the appeal as well. But, I think the people who watch e-sports today are the same type of people who would have watched physical sports in ages past. So the "watching other people play games" market isn't growing, it's just shifting to new games.
          • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @11:09PM (#54549203)

            People watch baseball too. I have trouble thinking of a video game that's more boring to watch than baseball.

          • We're in the end still talking about watching people play video games. Unless they are WAY more interesting than the average "Let's play" on YouTube, I fail to see the appeal.

            So? I fail to see the appeal of watching men chase a ball around a field and yet it's a big business.

            Do not under-estimate the draw of watching people play games. The only reason sport was previously so popular was due to lack of competition for youngsters attention. This is no longer the case - casual games are taking in the majority of the eyeballs of young people these days. So is the internet, online forums, social networking, etc.

            Sport matches now have to compete with facebook, words-with-friends, twit

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 04, 2017 @02:41PM (#54547183)

      Your post is dumb. I am a millennial and can do without people like you. I deserve a participation trophy for showing up here and posting. That participation trophy should include mod points so I can censor your dumb post to -1 where it belongs.

    • by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @02:47PM (#54547221)

      The 17-34 year old ones do have less spending power than older generations, BUT!
      This is where details come handy.
      You can't only look at spending power as a whole - you need to look at what their spending power goes to.

      Say a 40 year old has a discretionary amount of 1000 dollars a month, out of which most goes on booze, trips and porn magazines. They spend zero on eSports.
      At the same time, a 21-year old has 200 dollars a month available, out of which 100 goes to eSports and related activities (CS:GO skins and shit like that).

      From an eSports perspective, who is your target?

      I agree that "45% of America's consumer base" doesn't mean shit as a statistic, but break it down to specifics and the picture changes radically.

    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @03:25PM (#54547409)

      What will be their spending power in a few years? Professional sports are trying to maximize short term profits at the expense of future earnings.

      My wife are at the leading edge of the millenials and have lost nearly all interest in the sports we grew up watching and now that we have dispensable income we've found other things to spend it on. We grew up fans of certain teams because we watched them with parents and grandparents on free OTA TV.

      After we graduated we tried to keep up with our Alma maters and watch our professional teams but the sports industry decided to make that impossible to do. When we were younger we'd go to a bar and try and catch the game but as we aged that became less and less entertaining.

      I even tried to pirate streams for a while because the local team decided it didn't fill enough $$$$ seats so they wouldn't air it. Or because we were closer in nautical miles to another sports team AND it was an NFC vs AFC game that it could only be watched on ESPN4, UNLESS we had the Plaid Sports channel with the blackout exception package. After a while we just gave up and moved on.

      I'm watching our younger siblings and their peers do the same. Because they don't have money it's "Pay rent" or "Buy Big10/SEC Network to watch football games" and Rent wins. My school can't figure out why they can't fill seats and it's because 0-12 year olds aren't excited about a team they've never seen play because their parents never watched it while they were growing up. Going to a Big 10 rivalry game was usually a Birthday present for me and my peers, but we watched it on ABC or NBC every other week.

      And they can't claim that the technology or demand wasn't there. Mark Cuban started out with phone lines so IU alumni could listen to home Basketball games, that turned into broadcast.com which Yahoo bought out. Professional sports could have charged a simple nominal fee to listen to 'home' games since 2000 and they decided to double down on the Cable route.

    • I dunno, I'm within the top 30% of income earners in my state, so probably more than most I imagine. I know plenty of people that are older than me and don't even have half of my income.

  • Not stupid at all (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 04, 2017 @02:36PM (#54547155)

    Esports doesn't:

    Require tax hikes to pay for bazillion dollar stadiums every decade lest the team pitch a fit and threaten to leave. Then, to add insult to injury, make you pay for parking, overcharge for shitty food and watered down beer, then make you pay through the nose for tickets. Good tickets are reserved for those with very deep pockets.

    Have competitors who make $20, $50, $100M dollar contracts. They throw a fucking ball for fucks sake.

    Require a subscription to E$PN or some giant Sports Package just to watch your team play.

    I don't really watch neither of them but if I had to make a choice, it wouldn't be traditional sports. Fuck those greedy bastages.

    • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @03:05PM (#54547317) Homepage
      YET
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cashman73 ( 855518 )
      Millennials spend most of their income on paying back their student loans, so they don't have the extra cash for $200 tickets and up. And GenX is currently too busy paying for their kids, and can't afford to spend $200 per ticket for a family of four ($800 and up) on a single game. That leaves the Boomers in the stands, who have been robbing their kids for years to pay for everything. Maybe one day, these old farts will retire and give us their season tickets,. . .
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      People feel like they are closer to esports, in the sense that they can pick up a controller and with some practice get good at the same games.

      In fact games like Street Fighter V have been designed so that combos are easy and even average players can compete against high ranking ones.

      • You don't a fair number of basketball fans shoot hoops in the backyard, or baseball fans throw the ball around?
    • Ball sports doesn't:

      Require permission from a game's inventor just to start your own league. Many publishers of proprietary video games used as esports assert their exclusive right to perform their games publicly, demanding either a royalty per match or even to shut down streams entirely. See "Why Nintendo can legally shut down any Smash Bros. tournament it wants" by Kyle Orland [arstechnica.com].

      I am aware that the MLB, NFL, and NBA leagues tightly control broadcasts of their matches. But they have no legal standing against

      • Even simpler: ball sports doesn't need a licence to play. Imagine a world where the football is a luxury good manufactured by a monopoly, and making your own ball is a crime. Contrast that with today's stars who started out in poverty, playing backyard games with makeshift equipment.

        Next time somebody compares e-sports to chess, remind them that chess is completely open-source.

    • Good tickets are reserved for those with very deep pockets

      Depends on how you define "good". Frankly if "good" means corporate box locked in a silent cabin eating a nice dinner I may as well stay at home. If "good means front row where I spend more time looking up at some screen because I can't see an overview of what is happening on the field, then likewise.

      Part of the joy of going to a sport is similar to standing in a moshpit of a band, where the premium tickets will give you a boring assigned seat somewhere. Good and expensive are not the same thing.

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @02:43PM (#54547201)

    I would rather watch eSports than real sports. Hint: I have never watched eSports.
    In the time it takes to watch other people play one game of baseball, or even League of Legends, I could win a few games of Hearthstone. I'd rather win at something I can do myself, than watch other people win at a level I can't play at.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      I'd rather win at something I can do myself, than watch other people win at a level I can't play at.

      I think couch potatoes and people who can't stand passive entertainment are both missing out on something. Personally, playing a video game can be fun. Sitting down for two hours to watch a movie can also be fun. I'm not a huge my team vs your team fan but occasionally during world championships and the Olympics I'll see if "our" athletes win, it can be fun to cheer for somebody. And occasionally watching skilled people do impressive feats is fun, even when it's not a competition as such. But if that doesn'

    • My own personal reason for watching eSports is to improve my skill by watching them.
  • by ThomasBHardy ( 827616 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @02:53PM (#54547255)

    Assumption: Referenced on other sites, Mellennials make up 23.3% of the US populace. Claiming 45% including 16 and younger skews the rest of the "data"

    Claim: 40% of millennials prefer watching esports to traditional sports
    So 40% of 24.3% (so we're looking at 9.32%) prefer esports to sweaty sports.
    Isn't that terribly easy to skew? Survey question: "Do you prefer esports or real sports?". If I cannot say "Neither, you insensitive clod" then it skews quickly towards esports. If forced to choose with a BFG to my head, the one I can play in the background on my monitor and ignore while I do other things is the choice.

    Claim:26% of millennial eSports enthusiasts reported a significant uptick in eSports viewing over the past year
    So 26% of the "enthusiasts" saw an uptick. Umm, define enthusiasts. Even if the assumed full 9.32% that chose esports over sports, 26% of that is just 2.4%
    Come on, 2.4% of the populace started watching more esports and the rest seems like inflated presentation.

    • It makes you wonder who paid L.E.K. Consulting to do this study. I guess this is a case of "Lies, damned lies, and statistics." The assertion that professional sports "have a millennial problem" seemed suspicious to me. While it may be true that millennials view and attend less sporting events than previous generations, this study doesn't sound like it necessarily provides evidence of that. Furthermore, it fails to demonstrate that if in fact traditional sports are in some kind of decline, "e-sports" have a

  • This is a typical cycle. The old is disregarded by the new generation for the next big thing. Those on the bleeding edge can profit. But now in our corporate sponsored world, it is cheaper for the old vanguard to wait and just purchase the next big thing instead of trying to innovate. Of course, they wouldn't be buying it if they didn't think it was worth SIGNIFICANTLY more than they were paying (otherwise, how could they should 7% growth of income every year).

  • by RotateLeftByte ( 797477 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @03:01PM (#54547293)

    Apart from Ice Hockey, US mainstream sports are a snoozefest. With the ever decreasing attention span of young people is it little wonder that audiences are voting with their feet.

    • The NBA, NHL, MLB etc. should adopt the NFL/UCL/EPL paradigm: less, but more meaningful, games. One or two games per week - but games that actually MATTER. Who's gonna watch 1 out of 82 (or whatever the number actually is these days) regular season games when that particular game might matter very little in the grand scheme of things? Once a playoff spot is assured, even the teams sit out their main stars...basically nothing matters until the playoffs.

      That's why I stopped watching the NBA and the NHL. I don

      • I sort of see your point for baseball.

        But what works for soccer and gridiron football might not work for basketball and ice hockey. A football pitch is much bigger than a basketball court or ice hockey rink. This means there are fewer seats per match to sell, which requires more matches per year for a given revenue level.

        • You're right, with 94% attendance in the NBA (as measured relative to capacity), there is little incentive to change. I doubt the figure is that high for the NHL though, on average. However, most of the money NBA teams make comes from TV rights and merchandising, not ticket sales. If there were, say 45 games per season instead of 82, each game would be worth more...also they could probably raise ticket prices and still keep the arenas packed.

          The only way things will change is if attendance and/or TV viewers

  • by ThomasBHardy ( 827616 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @03:04PM (#54547311)

    Tired of the general populace subsidizing sports channels.

    https://www.outkickthecoverage... [outkickthecoverage.com]

    • It should also reduce sportspeople's salaries to less unreasonable levels. There are a huge amount of savings which can be made there before it will affect anything.
    • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @03:38PM (#54547475) Homepage Journal
      This is really the key. Revenue for sports is generated because it is one of the few things that generates viewers for broadcast and TV. Broadcast TV was killed with timeshifting, and the only thing that saved it was reality TV, which was cheap, contest TV like dance shows and the like which encouraged views not to time shift, and sports which are seldom time shifted.

      ESPN value to cable companies is that men will tend to buy a cable package that includes it, in the same that families will buy Disney and old people will buy Fox News. These channels attract a premium in the carriage fees because they will attract subscribers. But still, a majority of views do not watch these channels, so they mostly make their money, as the poster suggests, through a sociality system in which people who never use the system are forced to subsidize.

      In a free market al a cart world in which the consumer only paid the carriage fees for the elected channels Fox and ESPN could not survive. The fees would no longer be hidden from the consumer, so the free market would set much lower fees that would not support the cost structure. An article was posting a few day ago that claimed ESPN could have saved itself by embracing technology. That would have happened only if was able to monetize the technology to consumers. As it has no experience at this, I don't see who it could work.

      Disney likely provides enough value to families as free babysitting to survive.

      In any case, most sports are toast for the same reason. They depend on inflated broadcast deals that in turn are funded at least in part by carriage fees that are funded in a large part by people who never watch sports. These fees are becoming more scarce by cord cutters.

      Streaming deals are funded only by people who stream, i.e. a baseball fan who wants to steam has to pony up at least $100. This is only a month of cable, but it is not longer a hidden cost that might have been included in other bills, so baseball fans might be less likely to subscribe.

      So fans go to other less expensive options. Also, schools are not doing nearly as a good a job at indoctrinating students into believing expensive sports are a good use of their hard earned money. Frankly you can get an excellent soccer ticket at the same cost as a nosebleed baseball ticket, and univision is broadcast.

      • So fans go to other less expensive options. Also, schools are not doing nearly as a good a job at indoctrinating students into believing expensive sports are a good use of their hard earned money.

        Schools in the deep South are still doing yeoman's work making sure good ol' boys like expensive traditional sports. The deep South is where they build multi-million dollar stadiums while the textbooks literally fall apart. It's happened more than once in recent years. My ex is from Texas and has three sons. All three of them joined the football team in high school. Even the pudgy one. Two of the three still watch football, and profess to enjoy it. The formerly pudgy one doesn't. It's high schools i

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          When I was in high school in the late eighties in California we would have rallies 4 or 5 times a year. What were the rallies about? why the sports teams of course. Everyone on a team was celebrated even if they were bench warmers. It made you want to join a team just for the popularity and status. At the end of the year there was an awards ceremony for scholarship but it was relatively low key in comparison. It gave the impression they were doing it as an obligation. It certainly didn't inspire you to want

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        i.e. a baseball fan who wants to steam has to pony up at least $100. This is only a month of cable

        A month? Try a year, if the local ISP offers Internet for $62 per month or a bundle of Internet and TV for $70 per month.

      • by mentil ( 1748130 )

        Actually Disney Channel is in deep trouble. Seen a young child lately? Good luck prying them away from their tablet/parent's smartphone. Chances are it's cued up to Youtube watching a Let's Play or random children's program; maybe not a premium exclusive-to-Disney program, but chances are the child doesn't care. The Youtube Kids app has more than enough content, and is 'good enough' entertainment for many young children. If they don't want to watch a video, there are long tons of free games. The tablet is T

        • by fermion ( 181285 )
          You know, I wonder why the got rid of club penguin. Spent a huge amount on monthly subscription, it must have been a cash cow.
      • by PMuse ( 320639 )

        In any case, most sports are toast for the same reason. They depend on inflated broadcast deals that in turn are funded at least in part by carriage fees that are funded in a large part by people who never watch sports. These fees are becoming more scarce by cord cutters.

        Indeed. I haven't looked for any stats, but I'm gonna take a wild guess that the cord-cutters overlap pretty strongly with the eSports-watchers. Hmm. If the people exiting cableTV are the ones that watched less sports, then the remaining viewership of cable becomes more sports-ish. Which makes me wonder why I'm still hanging around in a wasteland of pro sports, reality shows, and . . .

        Actually, I'm not sure there is any third thing left on cable TV. It's long past time I, too, took ship at the Grey Hav

  • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @03:26PM (#54547415)
    ESPN (and the US sport in general) is an exercise in determining how deeply they can screw their customers. They don't offer any real web streaming, they require expensive cable subscriptions, they have geographic restrictions and so on. And on top of that, all of the "traditional" US sports are BORING - matches might take many hours and are usually excruciatingly slow with all the timeouts and replacements.

    Is it such a wonder that people who are not slaves to American Hand Egg prefer something more alive and user-friendly?
    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      Baseball might be watchable if it were 5 innings and there were a 'shot clock' in which the pitcher must throw or else it's counted as a Ball. (American) Football timeouts should be 60 seconds unless there's a flag, and the clock shouldn't stop on out-of-bounds (which is flagrantly abused by everyone.) The glacial nature of these sports is exacerbated by the broadcasters wanting space for regular commercial breaks. The athletes actually have to wait to resume play until the broadcaster comes back from comme

  • Oligopolies have been dicking consumers around for so long that they are jumping ship as soon as they find a raft.

  • It's more fun to participate
  • Yeah, I grew tired of pro sports. Where I live, football/soccer is the main sport being followed. And things are getting to very high level of ridicule. The players do not show any sportsmanship, faking injuries in order to get adventages. Players even insult each other and have no respect for the authority that is the referee team. Players play as a brute when they want to get a yellow card in order to miss a not so important match they would be playing next. Boring tactics on the field bored me, and TV br
    • I would prefer a "clean" audio stream that just has the stadium announcer and the sound of the crowd. Except with hockey, where the play is so fast that all they can do is say who has the puck.

      The inanity of sports-talkers is just mental masturbation for their own gratification at this point.

      Of course now we have DVRs, which make American football and baseball watchable in well under an hour.

  • It will be pretty cool when they drop the prices and let me bring in food to fill some seats :-)

  • by mewsenews ( 251487 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @06:07PM (#54548021) Homepage

    The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Millenials are being saddled with giant student debt loads at the same time they are being expected to pay forward to social assistance programs that are being utilized by boomers on their slow shuffle off the planet.

    The megacorps that own America can't have it both ways -- they can't pressure wages downward with the threat of outsourcing and then expect the oppressed people to cough up for expensive entertainment, whether it's movie tickets, sit down restaurants, or live sporting events. All those industries claim to be suffering but what did they expect? People, especially young people, are losing their ability to spend on trivialities.

  • 1) Lets stop calling games as "sports". This includes poker, chess, and anything involving computer button pressing. Not to denigrate such things, but they are competitive games, not sports.

    2) Live televised sports have become so "monetized" with commercials that many are virtually unwatchable. For a generation used to Netflix and adblocked Youtube, it's a non-starter. Have you tried to watch a football game in the past few years? There is a commercial almost every whistle. Constant bombardment.

    3)

  • Title say "Millennials Prefer Watching eSports", and summary says 40% of them prefer watching eSports. Since when 40% became a majority?
  • ... I can't get into those esports. :P

  • What? Real sports? With all those fit athletes who promote unhealthy, unattainable body norms and their ableist propaganda? Millennials can't watch that. They'd rather be playing video games where a 300kg retarded, blue-haired Gorrila Mutant can still be a hero. Hooray for the liberation of the oppressed basement dwelling landwhales!
  • by onkelonkel ( 560274 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @12:25AM (#54549433)

    You should have seen the Alumni at my old University flip out when the new Director of Athletics cut funding for Football and Baseball and put the money into Ultimate and Soccer because that's what the kids were actually playing.

  • Let us not forget that the relatively young are much more easily sold to by marketers than those who have already chosen and settled into their rut. Even if the 35-60 crowd or the 61-80 crowd has more money, it is much harder to sway those people to shift their spending. Plus, sports has probably already captured as much of the 35-80 crowd as it can reasonably expect to get. This is not to say that the 17-34 crowd are dumber spenders than older folks, but rather that they remain undecided spenders. They

  • I am 50 and have never been interested in spectator sport - to me it is a pointless exercise. Why should I watch some team play another team? I care nothing for it.

    BUT I love e-SPORT. Watching Starcraft was great and then I switched to League of Legends. I still have zero interest in spectator sport.
  • I think you're talking about games.

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