As traditional sports like baseball and football struggle with stalling viewership and an aging fan base, a new kind of sport has emerged with huge appeal for millions around the world. Economics correspondent Paul Solman has the story from Austin, Texas, where he went to a three-day event for what’s known as e-sports. It’s part of his weekly series, Making Sense. PAUL SOLMAN: Pro sports, and they don’t get any hotter than this, in the U.S, in France, in Poland. The fans are in ecstasy and sometimes despair over e-sports, electronic sports. That’s right. They’re playing video games for money, big money. Come on, you ask, this is sports? Well, the Olympics are considering adding e-sports because they have mesmerized the digital generation, while traditional sports worry about decline. MIKE VAN DRIEL, DreamHack: We’re not really concerned anymore about this hangup of like, is it sports or not? Find out more about games and how to make money of them here: https://uscasinosguide.com/best-us-online-casinos/
PAUL SOLMAN: We’re at DreamHack in Austin Texas, Canadian Mike Van Driel here from Sweden to manage the event. And while DreamHack Austin drew a crowd of only 30,000, $30 just to watch, $89 if you also BYOC, bring your own computer to play in the amateur pen. But you know how times many fans will tune in online? MIKE VAN DRIEL: I mean, easily 100 million. PAUL SOLMAN: A hundred million? MIKE VAN DRIEL: Yes. PAUL SOLMAN: The box office take in Austin, nearly a million dollars. But this is just one of the dozen or so events DreamHack hosts every year. MIKE VAN DRIEL: We’re doing two events in the U.S., two events in Spain. And then in two weeks from now, we will be at kind of the original event in a Jonkoping, Sweden. PAUL SOLMAN: And how many people come to that? MIKE VAN DRIEL: About 55,000. PAUL SOLMAN: In Jonkoping. That’s standing room only at Yankee Stadium. Moreover, while we were at DreamHack, a separate tournament was taking place at a resort in Wisconsin. And there were others all over the world.
MIKE VAN DRIEL: So many events happen on the same weekend, because there’s not enough weekends. PAUL SOLMAN: Following the fans, of course, the money. Growing at 40 percent per year, e-sports figure to gross nearly a billion dollars by the end of 2018, 40 percent or so from sponsorships, 20 percent from ads, another 20 percent from media rights. At DreamHack, signs of the new money were everywhere, high-tech cameras on cranes. So-call casters call the action play-by-play, streamed live worldwide, as the pro gamers play for rich prizes, in addition to their substantial salaries. SHAHZEB KHAN, ShahZaM: They’re well over six figures. And then the sky’s the limit with prize money. PAUL SOLMAN: That’s ShahZaM, Shahzeb Khan, a star whose pro e-sport is Counter-Strike, where five terrorists try to plant bombs and five counterterrorists try to deter them permanently. Whoever neutralizes the opposing team first wins. ShahZaM plays for compLexity Gaming, one of scores of pro e-sports teams in various leagues playing different e-sports video games, Dota 2, PUBG, Overwatch, League of Legends. They all compete for top talent, like ShahZaM.