AffiliateINSIDER CEO Lee-Ann Johnstone shares some wisdom regarding esports and its relationship with gambling 

Esports has been a bit of a hot topic in igaming of late. Arguably it could be a game-changer for traditional sports affiliates to expand into. There are a lot of opinions flying around and debate surrounding whether esports is, in fact, a sport at all and what the potential is in relation to igaming. Business Insider has reported that the revenue for betting, sponsoring and advertising esports could reach a huge $800 million in 2019. Will it keep growing, and should affiliates take notice? We discuss the esports market further in this article.

What is esports?

Although there is no physicality involved – there is a competitive element which coined the term esports. It requires individuals or teams battling it out on games such as Call of Duty, Warcraft II, Heroes of Newerth and others.

There are now tournaments that take place all of the world where fans can tune in to the live streaming and watch the action online. The prizes for the winners are substantial – and people can now do this as a profession. The concept of playing computer games against other people isn’t new – people have been doing it for over 30 years, but as technology evolved and it became more accessible for people to connect with one another online – its popularity has grown exponentially.

Should igaming companies be cashing in?

Since the prizes available in esports tournaments are so substantial – there is a lot of betting opportunity. It’s no secret that it has been difficult for operators to capture the attention of a younger audience – and esports could be a way around this.

Millennials are used to a much more innovative user experience online and across social media channels. As such, the igaming industry as a whole needs to find new ways to engage the younger demographic. With esports, typically the age group is 18-30’s which will create much more opportunities for operators who incorporate into their strategies well.

What do we predict for the future?

We have seen some heavy hitters in the industry launch esports sections on their brands. Betway, Skybet, and Paddy Power being some of the first to jump on board. There are also now dedicated; esports focused operators such as Unikrn, gibe and new entrant vie.gg taking a large percentage of the market share.

We predict that there will be a lot more standalone esports betting sites shortly, as although these bolt-ons are beginning to draw in an audience – as it gets more competitive, operators need to create a product that genuinely resonates with an esports audience. Simply adding a tab on your website won’t cut it.

We are also preparing for there to be a much bigger focus on social media channels such as Twitch which is widely used by esports fans and players to live stream events. Slotsfighter partnered with AskGamblers recently and created a fantastic Twitch campaign. This is the kind of innovation that will be critical for the success of an esports site.

With esports continuing to grow at a rapid rate, and huge betting potential – affiliates and operators need to sit up and take notice to understand how early adoption will develop into new revenue.