Activision Blizzard’s eSports division is aiming to make billions, equal to other large professional sports leagues. In a call with investors following publication of the company’s year end results, Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick says that they could see NFL revenue levels from eSports.
During the call, Blizzard’s executives laid out the scale of their plans and ambitions, and the reasoning behind them. CEO Kotick explained it in terms of volume of spectator engagement generated: 14 billion games were played in Activision Blizzard’s titles last year, and spectators watched about 1.5 billion hours of video footage as a result. For comparison, The 2014/15 NFL season produced about 7 billion spectator hours. He went on to explain what that meant for the NFL in terms of money: “Those televised games generated approximately $7 billion of broadcast rights fees for the NFL and another $4 billion in other revenues including sponsorships, merchandise and ticket sales.” He further elaborates on the plans, and indicated that while current eSports revenue amounts to “really less than a couple of pennies” in terms of the company’s earnings per share, that he believes that as investments rise, so will revenues. Bobby did not give exact figures, but he did cite some numbers in connection with ESPN: “The opportunities that we see there (on ESPN) is roughly $5 billion of operating profit, $4 billion of league payments for the broadcast rights.”
There is no doubt that the Pandora’s Box of eSports is opened, and all of the good and ill that can come of it has been let out. While further revenue will doubtlessly mean further money spent on development, that development will naturally be geared towards match-based PvP games which generate eSports revenue. In the long term, we hope this will not shift focus from other types of games too much.
Source: gamesindustry.biz articleRelated: Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, eSports, Financials, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, News, Starcraft 2