[toc]Disney appears to be preparing to go all-in on esports, as the entertainment giant has taken significant action to attempt to reach a dominant position in the industry over the past few months.
Disney and its premium sports brand ESPN are both household names. These brands hold massive influence over their audiences. Disney is the go-to source for young children’s entertainment. while ESPN holds the sports audiences captive.
Together, these properties give Disney a strong foothold with younger and older demographics. But neither serves the middle particularly well.
An even more important question for the ESPN brand is how it will deal with the decline in sports viewership. ESPN needs to do something to ensure its place in the market in future generations.
Esports is the perfect way for Disney to introduce younger fans to the ESPN brand. Time is of the essence for Disney, as it must compete with names like Amazon, Google, Twitter and Facebook for the esports audience.
Esports provides the glue between Disney entertainment and sports
It’s no secret that cable TV sports viewership is in decline. This decline is consistent with the increase in the average age of sports fans and with cord-cutting becoming more and more popular, especially with the younger generation.
In order to capture the next generations of sports fans, media giants such as ESPN will need to find a way to become relevant in new ways. Esports provides this relevance and is a fantastic stepping stone from entertainment-focused gamers to competition-loving sports fans. This is because the typical esports fan has outgrown the core of Disney’s products but is not necessarily a huge sports fan.
Uniting Disney and ESPN content on a single platform powered by BAMTech — with gaming and esports content to bridge the age gap — is a recipe for success for Disney and ESPN.
Esports content is already being broadcast on DisneyXD and ESPN2
Disney has recently picked up ESL’s weekly Street Fighter 5 competition. After rebranding it into “ESL Brawlers,”DisneyXD now airs it weekly. Esports has also been on ESPN2 several times, most recently the Street Fighter V finals from the Evolution tournament in Las Vegas was broadcast on the premium channel.
While none of these events have provided especially large viewership numbers, they have not disappointed. The continued support of esports on Disney indicates a commitment to the industry.
Esports content is also less expensive to produce than many alternatives while being very entertaining.
ESPN Esports has stayed the course while others faltered
Many esports news sources have either closed their doors or turned to traditional gaming news and updates. But ESPN Esports has been unwavering.
We don’t know exactly how much attention ESPN Esports generates for the larger brand. But we can see that content continues to flow from the staff of journalists, contributors and editors at ESPN Esports.
Disney resorts will be fantastic live esports venues
Disney has already stated interest in becoming a host for live events at its Walt Disney World Resorts property in Florida.
And what better place to host a gaming competition? The resort is a popular family destination already complete with a spectator arena at the Wide World of Sports Complex, excellent guest accommodations and thousands of potential fans and spectators already on location.
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BAMTech gives Disney the ability to broadcast its own esports
The esports demographic consumes a lot of media online. In esports, more than any other competitive arena, fans like to go directly to the source. With Disney now being the majority owner of MLB-developed streaming platform BamTECH, Disney and ESPN have that capability and look to wield it to great effect.
BamTECH’s stated purpose is to create a streaming platform for Disney content and ESPN channels, and this is will do well. However, if Disney wants to create more content — especially content that bridges the gap between fun-loving children and sports-loving adults — esports will fill that void.
Disney will not be without competition in the world of streaming. Twitch continues to make deals to secure its place as the leader in the world of esports streaming. It will not give up this position without a fight.
Disney owns the rights to broadcast the largest esports league in the world
League of Legends is the largest game played as an esport in the world. Owning the broadcast rights for the various competitions gives Disney and BAMTech a huge jump start.
With its recent acquisitions, Disney can now:
- Host its own live events.
- Stream these events through its online streaming platform.
- Provide media coverage through ESPN Esports.
It’s a win-win-win for the entertainment goliath.
Recent actions by Disney — combined with the potential of the esports market — has positioned the company to change the industry’s landscape and shape the future of gaming and esports fans.