By: Kylan W. Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers have become the first sports franchise in North America to purchase an Electronic sports (E-sports) team. The Sixers purchased two teams, Team Dignas and Apex Gaming. Both teams have big E-sports teams that are involved in playing video games like League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and Smite. All teams will compete under the Dignas name and the Sixers will run the business aspect for the team.
E-sports is a growing spectator sport more people, an estimated 27 million people watched a League of Legends tournament in 2014. 205 million people participate in E-sports. E-Sports are expected to dwarf the NBA, NFL, and MLB in popularity. Thanks to streaming sites like Twitch who have 55 million users, and YouTube.
As a sports franchise owner why would you not want a piece of that pie? Teams like the Sixers have a chance to grow their popularity and consumer base by participating and owning an E-Sports team. As E-sports continually grow teams can open themselves up to an elusive base; millennials. A lot of people who watch E-Sports tournaments are between the ages of 18-35. Millennials are a very elusive demographic and owning an E-Sports team is a way for teams like the Sixers to have their brand recognized by a younger generation that may not be in to basketball. If this strategy works and the teams become successful more teams will look to get in on that E-sports money and millennial branding.
It has been a good year for the Sixers so far, they were able to get the number one pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and turn that pick into Ben Simmons, the Sixers also have a promising young team, and now they are trying to turn all that progress and business savvy into owning a profitable E-Sports team.