Competitive Video Gaming May Be The Professional Sport Of The Future

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Competitive online gaming, also known as electronic sports, or eSports, is said to be on the path to becoming the world’s most predominant — and profitable — professional sport.

Observing matches and games between professional gamers is picking up in the U.S. and is soon to be a major economic competitor of the NFL and MLB, MarketWatch reports. In 2014, the gaming market acquired $3.6 billion in revenue.

Twitch, the world’s largest streaming network of online video games, was bought by Inc. for nearly $1 billion and in 2014, logged more streaming views for the “Riot Games” League of Legends world championship than the amount views on each match in both NCAA Final Four and the World Series.

Twitch chief operating officer Kevin Lin has said that some eSport events are “already bigger than the biggest events in sports.”

The Twitch application has reached more than 23 million downloads since a 2011 relaunch. Such numbers are growing close to those of professional sports’ applications.

Two years after ESPN launched ScoreCenter in 2010, which sent mobile notifications of live scores and athletic standings, the application was downloaded 28.5 million times.

“Free-to-play” games — the crux of the eSports industry — is predicted to be the “fastest-growing segment” in 2015, advancing from $1.11 billion to about $1.29 billion in revenue.

ESL America, the largest broadcaster of eSports (ESPN for professional gaming) is zeroing in on bringing eSports into the mainstream media spotlight.

The rise of eSports, ESL vice president Craig Levine said, “is more than just fad.”