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Esports exec: 'Every day, a baseball fan dies, and two gaming fans are born'


Professional esports is exploding and Immortals Gaming Club (IGC) has its eye on the next generation of gamers as it expands its revenue streams.

Launched in 2015, IGC reaches more than 35 million gamers and brings them together to play on teams across every major league. It recently bought Infinite Esports, OpTic Gaming parent company, for $100 million — the largest deal in esports history.

“Every day, a baseball fan dies, and two gaming fans are born. And there's truth in that,” Ari Segal, IGC CEO, told Yahoo Finance’s On the Move. “So, I think the greatest expansion is going to just come from the generational kind of aging out of what you would currently think of or characterize as adults, and the birth of young people, who grow up in a world that's digitally native.”

The biggest segment right now in terms of esports growth is 13- to 17-year-olds., according to Segal. “We certainly expect that that segment will continue to accelerate and adopting competitive gaming in all forms. And that is new young people are born and mature, that they will become the fastest growing segment pretty soon.”

‘More like traditional sports’

While IGC continues to attract a younger audience, it also is moving toward a direct-to-consumer model. So far, most of the company’s revenue comes from sponsorships and media rights. IGC plans to host more events like the Activision Blizzard’s LA home stand Overwatch League August 24 and 25 at LA Live, where it can sell tickets to consumers.

“Not only do we get the ticket revenue but there’s all the downstream revenue. There’s merchandise and parking and food and beverage and also access to first party data,” Segal explained.

Members of the teams 'NAVI.GG.BET' and 'Ninjas in pyjamas' compete during the ESL ONE Counter-Strike video game tournament at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, western Germany, on July 5, 2019. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo credit should read INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty Images)

Competitive gaming will look “more like traditional sports from a monetization standpoint,” said Segal, adding that IGC’s deal with K-Swiss “represents a little bit of a three dimensional approach to monetization.”

In addition to a sponsorship deal with the athletic shoemaker, IGC has developed a performance shoe for gamers. “This is actually a shoe developed by gamers for gamers and for use in competitive gaming. It's the first performance shoe in gaming,” he said. “It’ll give the player complete control while they’re playing so that they never need to think about their shoe, or their foot or anything else. They can focus purely on the task at hand [game play].”

Ralston Ramsay is a producer for Yahoo Finance’s On the Move.

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