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Will The Packers And The NFL Miss A Chance On Esports?

The Packers have had brilliant track record. In 2017, they received $277 million from the NFL’s eye-popping $8 billion raked in revenues. And while the season is now in full blast and the team continues to stay on top of their game, there may be yet more opportunities to monetize on the popularity of NFL, other than commercials and broadcast rights.

A new breed of sports fans has emerged. Youths with plenty of disposable income who love their sport as much as they love their esports. In fact, some of the NFL’s own stars have embraced esports and jumped in the thick of it in the hours between training sessions, including JuJu Smith-Schuster who is playing for FaZe Clan, a popular esports powerhouse that often attracts real athletes to compete in video games.

Should the NFL and Franchises Such as Packers Pursue Investment Opportunity?

There are a lot of arguments in favor and against. Esports alone generate overwhelming amount of viewership, although admittedly, not for digital version of the NFL. Nevertheless, the NBA 2K, a newly-established NBA-inspired esports league, are hoping to whip up sufficient interest and drive revenue from their digital arm. A similar idea could be pursued by the NFL.

Another interesting and potentially lucrative revenue stream to be explored is esports betting, which strikes home with the NFL. The NFL has been one of the originators of fantasy betting, which has been both loved and hated, though any negative segment has stemmed from ossified legislators for the most part.

Can the Packers Gab turn that to their benefit? It remains to be seen. A great example can be given by pointing out to the recent sponsorship between the English Premier League (EPL), the world’s most-watched football tournament and Electronic Arts (EA).

Each of the mainstream football clubs will field their own digital contesters. Many of the teams in the league in fact already have FIFA teams, including Manchester City and West Ham, and others.

The Dangerous of Playing with Esports

Beyond the reproach that esports are not as much of a noble sport as, well, their mainstream counterparts there seem to be other dangers associated to this professional. A recent shooting during an EA Madden NFL 2019 qualifying event left three gamers dead in Jacksonville, Florida, after a gamer who had just lost opened fire on his fellow competitors.

The wanton deaths of the players have had its effects with the game’s producer and publisher, EA, now pushing up the standards of all qualifying events. The original NFL has had to deal with security issues for decades, but the freshly-minted segment of esports is new to the idea that someone would lash out and start shooting at people, even if the nature of the game is sometimes quite violent indeed.

Most of esports have been recreational. And the electronic NFL is not the only mainstream sport that has been brought to the digital realm. The NBA and FIFA are also transformed into games that are enjoyed by both the actual players who compete and the parent organizations and gamers.

In the case of the NBA, for example, the NBA 2K League has been set-up. NBA Commissioner Adam Smith has called it a fully-fledged member of the mainstream sporting body.

NFL and Riding the Wave

Understandably, the NFL has not been in a particular hurry to embrace the segment. But it may be worth knowing that esports are developing and doing so quickly. Even if the NFL remains at the top of the charts with its $14 billion in annual revenue, esports are developing and worth $350 million in the United States alone, and they have a much greater international reach, unlike the NFL.

However, breaking the numbers further down, esports events such as the Dota 2 International have prize pools that may soon come to rival those of established competitions, such as Wimbledon.

The NFL can truly benefit from the expansion of esports by bringing fans from overseas. Understandably, adapting the franchises to an esports-oriented marketing would be a mean feat at first, but so far – all mainstream sporting bodies that experimented with it are happy with the upshot.

Intelligence companies, such as NewZoo and Sensor Tower have all been pointing to the imminent rise of esports as a discipline that will channel new business opportunities for mainstream sporting bodies. The question is if NFL wants to make use of these new opportunities.


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