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With Live Sports On Hold, Esports Continue Stepping Up To The Plate

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Most live sporting events have been on hold for the past month, and there’s no sign sports will be returning any time soon.

In the absence of sports, leagues and their partners are turning to the virtual world to reach sports fans and even build their audience for when live sports eventually returns.

Esports Events

On March 22, Formula One launched the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, which aired on Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) sports channels ESPN in the U.S. and Sky Sports in the UK. The first event drew 3.2 million online viewers on Alphabet Inc's (NASDAQ: GOOGL) streaming platform YouTube, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) platform Twitch and Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR). It also reportedly drew 1.2 million TV viewers.

The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitation Series reportedly also drew 1.3 million viewers when it aired on Fox Corp (NASDAQ: FOX) (NASDAQ: FOXA) channels late last month.

See Also: Esports, Gaming Thrive, Adapt As Nation Grapples With Pandemic

Video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc (NASDAQ: TTWO) recently partnered with ESPN to air an esports tournament hosted by NBA superstar Kevin Durant. Fox Sports also recently aired an NFL esports tournament involving pro football players to raise money for COVID-19 charities.

Unique Marketing Opportunity

Companies outside the esports business are seemingly starting to recognize the opportunity that the live sports shutdown has created. BMW (OTC: BMWYY) recently partnered with five different global esports organizations, including Cloud9 in the U.S.

DataTrek co-founder Jessica Rabe said Friday that BMW sees esports as a unique opportunity to reach its next generation of customers.

“No, many esports fans may not be able to afford a luxury car yet (or even drive...), but BMW is presenting their offerings as an aspirational purchase. This way the company will have these young adults as buyers in the pipeline when they earn enough money in the future,” Rabe wrote.

The longer the world continues without live sports, the more sports fans may be pushed to explore esports for the first time. Many of those fans may enjoy it enough to stick around even once live sports return.

See Also: Why The Next Major Social Networks May Exist In Video Games

Benzinga’s Take

Crossover between live sports and esports could be a win-win for both industries, exposing sports fans to competitive gaming and giving gamers a reason to watch live sports.

For investors looking to capitalize on a potential COVID-19 boom in esports, video game publishers such as Take-Two, Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) and Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) may be some of the biggest winners.

Do you agree with this take? Email feedback@benzinga.com with your thoughts.

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