There's no doubting the popularity of esports at this stage. However, marketers have been wary of getting involved, as the structure of it doesn't match what they already know. The teams, players, leagues and platforms can vary wildly, and brand owners are scared of making a misstep. This hinders the commercial development of esports, and therefore the industry as a whole.
There's a new movement though that combines the best aspects of esports—authenticity, global community, and a digital-first approach—with the more familiar structure of traditional sports leagues like the NFL. The trailblazer for this approach is the Overwatch League (OWL), which drew in an average audience per minute of 400,000 on its opening day.
We can see this vertically integrated approach, combining the new and the familiar, unlocking new heights for the popularity of esports.