Esports: Football and the Olympics buy into computer gaming

Paris Saint Germain sets up its own esports team and BT Sport televises Fifa 17 finals, while LA wants to use gaming to boost the Olympics


Competitive computer gaming, or esports, is on the rise, reports the BBC, with football clubs including French champions Paris Saint-Germain setting up their own dedicated teams and calls for gaming to become an Olympic sport by 2024.

Esports generated £400m in revenue in 2016 and already commands a global audience of more than 300 million people. But it is growing fast and by 2020 forecasters predict revenues of more than £1bn and an audience of 600 million..

French side PSG set up its own esports team in October last year competing in the biggest esports competition, League of Legends - which has a prize of £800,000 on offer to the winning team. They were joined by German football club Schalke's gaming team in the 2017 European Challenger Series.

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The move is designed to help the club raise its profile "particularly targeting the US and Asian markets", explains the BBC. "Manchester City and West Ham have already signed players of the Fifa football game to represent them."

There has been talk of an online Champions League-style competition across a variety of games between clubs that own esports franchises, while Los Angeles, which is bidding to host the 2024 Olympics and hosts many big esports tournaments, has described esports as a "tremendous tools for reconnecting millennials with the Olympic movement". That could mean players competing for medals at the Games, reports Mashable.

Media companies are taking note, with thousands turning out to watch gamers play live and millions more watching on the internet, esports could soon become a staple of the TV sports channels.

BT Sport recently confirmed it will televise the finals of the Fifa Ultimate Team Championship Series, reports The regional finals for Asia-Pacific, North America and Europe will all be shown on BT Sport along with the Fifa 17 Ultimate Team Championship Final in Berlin in May.

"Fifa 17 remains a niche aspect of esports but the enormous userbase makes it a fertile ground for potential financial success to advertisers, clubs and players," says the website.

Its popularity is set to grow, says Peter Warman of esport analysts Newzoo. He tells the BBC: "It has the potential to become one of the top five sports in the world."

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