The COVID-19 pandemic shut down so many industries for months, that global economies were suffering, jobs were lost, and even sports and entertainment were halted. The one industry who seemed virtually unaffected by coronavirus? eSports.
Sports just resumed toward the end of the summer, leaving them without several months of revenue in some cases. eSports continued business as usual throughout the quarantine phase of the pandemic, just without stadiums. Competitors were able to compete from across the world, maintaining their regular eSports schedule and hosting virtual tournaments.
Due to everyone having to stay home, and likely because television shows weren’t producing new content, and there being no sports to watch on television, eSports grew their audience with the highest number of new viewers or players – and their servers were simply not prepared for the traffic, having several servers crash due to too many players.
However, the eSports world was projected to generate $1.1 billion in revenue, and while COVID did have a minimal impact, shaving that number down to $950.3 million, that’s still an impressive number compared to other sports who were sidelined for several months.
The main loss of revenue stems from not being able to host big stadium championship events, and the revenue generated from in-person tournaments.
Professional eSports players’ seasons were approaching, and usually they would be preparing with plenty of practice with teams, but this wasn’t the case for 2020. Practice began remotely at first, with many players practicing online in dorms, fraternities, wherever they were in the world at that time.
Some schools have even set up eSports centers and college eSports teams, where students can go to compete free of distraction, due to the lack of college recreational sports available – it just seems like the safest way for students to have a sport to participate in during COVID-19 times.
Schools are seeing a huge financial loss without having college football programs active, and while eSports isn’t going to fill a huge financial hole, many are exploring their options to see what kind of revenue models are out there.
For example, Marietta College in Ohio has an eSports program, and has the ability to offer scholarships for eSports players. They have a state of the art eSports center, that has now been transformed for pandemic purposes, with added barriers between PCs and masks are required.
There wasn’t the long list of protocols and safety regulations for eSports that NFL, NBA and other professional sports needed to be able to resume play, they simply could log into a computer and play, completely socially distanced.
In instances where teams got together to practice, players were encouraged to bring their own equipment, and the coach would frequently wipe down any communal keyboards, headphones and other gaming equipment to ensure proper sanitation was maintained.
What About eSports and Sports Betting?
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic spread into the world of sports betting as well, because many, many people bet on sports daily, so when all physical sports were abruptly halted in March, we saw sportsbooks doubling down on eSports odds.
For a while there, the only thing you could bet on was eSports, which ultimately increased the number of new viewers – the sports bettors who were desperate to bet on something. And that’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of eSports bettors in the world, eSports is a huge betting market, but in many North American areas, not many people have tried betting on eSports and the pandemic forced them to give it a shot (if they were desperate to bet on it of course).
If you are looking to bet on eSports, but don’t know where to start or where you should sign up to bet on eSports, Canada Sports Betting is a great resource for all things gambling, with sportsbook reviews, betting guides, and much more.