Park emphasized that esports’ success has also been the industry’s ability to naturally “[drive] tribal associations” that “organically attracts really passionate viewership and really passionate allegiances.” He also believes that traditional sports have been “challenged to understand” the younger demographics who devour both esports and regular athletics.
A big part of that, says Park, has come from a changing media entertainment landscape where content creation, competitors and influencers have converged. That in turn has led to what Park said is a breakdown in many of the business models traditionally adopted by sports leagues and media brands.
“Fans, influencers and athletes were discreet categories of people, and that’s just not the case in this world,” he explained. “Every day on Twitch really challenges those distinctions in those categories. It creates incredible interactivity which is just tailor-made for social media today.”
He added: “I think that is clearly what the next stage or level of high-quality content is going to be and there are a lot of different ramifications of that across the business.”
A number of former executives in traditional sports are making the jump into the electronic version. Yet Park explained that the space still needs participants whose experiences are mainly shaped by the esports experience, which is necessary for its continued growth and development.
Park doesn’t believe the esports industry will follow much of a “textbook” approach to growth. Consequently, much of its future will depend on a combined effort to mature the industry, which in many aspects diverges wildly from traditional business models.
The rapid growth of the sector is “both so compelling and complicated, it also creates opportunities for organizations to work together to figure things out,” he told CNBC.
“That’s harder to do in a 200-year-old league where franchises have already established their lanes and rivalries, and the surrounding ecosystem is already cordoned off by rights holders who don’t ever really veer off of their core,” he added.
And Park stressed that cooperation is necessary, given how quickly the esports scene can change. He points to the launch of Electronic Arts’ free-to-play shooter “Apex Legends” — and the explosion of its player base — as an example of how a new game or product can shake up the space in mere days.
“We are in a historic moment where [trends] in media and marketing are converging,” while the esports sector itself is in its “formative years,” he added.
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