Nabyl’s Weekly Digital Age Insights – Episode 7

By March 3, 2019 Insight

In Episode 7, I highlight key stories from eSports and space tourism, 2 industries that have experienced massive growth in recent years. In-case you missed Episode 6 where I shared key learnings from my Keynote at GE Aviation’s Waypoint 2019, click here to check it out.

1. Fortnite goes big on esports for 2019 with $100 million prize pool

Adults continuously ridicule the idea that video games are serious business. This is to their own detriment in so many different ways. 2018 saw video game sales (software and hardware) in the US grow almost 20% from the previous year to just over $43 billion. And, the industry surrounding competitive gaming (collectively referred to as ‘eSports’), is expected to generate over $1 billion in revenue globally this year, an increase of over 25% from 2018. We’ve come as far as Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred admitting earlier this week that the MLB has been lagging behind in the eSports market compared to its major rivals, and that they are making this a priority in 2019. Fortnite, a battle royale survival game, has been a significant contributor in driving not just video game popularity globally, but also the eSports industry as a whole. In 2018, Fortnite took in close to $2.5 billion in annual revenue, the most of any game in history. Tyler Blevins, a popular Fortnite streamer and video game personality, was featured in a NFL Super Bowl commercial, while sports and entertainment celebrities have been clamouring to connect with gamers and the Fornite brand. Fortnite’s latest eSports announcement is a drop in the bucket for dollars that will be spent in the coming years in the world’s new past time.

2. Nike Signs Its First Esports Sponsorship Deal

Staying on the theme of eSports, it’s no surprise that the biggest global brands are continuing a wholesale march towards entertainment’s newest and most lucrative focal point. In Episode 2, I noted that it wasn’t the NBA, NFL, the Premier League or any other traditional sports league that is poised to experience the most growth. Close to 500 sports industry leaders across the world are looking to eSports as the fastest growing. This past week, we also saw the first eSports company, Super League Gaming, begin trading on the Nasdaq. Major networks like ESPN and Disney have already signed deals with video game makers to broadcast leagues and tournaments. In Episode 3, I shared how State Farm sponsored their first ever eSports athlete, with brands falling over themselves to find sponsorship entry points. In 2018 alone close to $360M was determined to be spent on E-sports sponsorships. Building on their late 2018 signing of eSports athlete Jian Zihao, Nike, the world’s largest apparel and sports equipment company, has signed on as the official apparel and footwear partner for China’s biggest eSports competition, Tencent and Riot’s League of Legends Pro League. As a quick note, the League of Legends finals in 2018 drew over 200 million viewers.

3. Virgin Galactic spaceplane reaches space with first passenger on board

In Episode 6, I talked about preparing for what’s beyond the curve, and the orthogonal impact exponential technologies are having on industries. One of the most mind-boggling shifts we’re witnessing is the slow realization of space tourism becoming a reality beyond the curve. Major players at the moment include Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX. Each company, with its well documented setbacks and missed deadlines in this arena, has continued to push the boundaries of innovation (and finances) to realize the goal of space tourism. Consider that 2001 marked the first private space flight effort with passenger Dennis Tito paying upwards of $20 million to spend a week orbiting the earth over 100 times. More have followed Dennis over time, and the price tag has continued to drop. Some of the latest figures show that a ticket on Virgin Galactic’s future trips orbiting the earth will run close to $250 thousand, with costs continuing to decline. Will we see the democratization of space tourism in our lifetimes? Perhaps we’re already seeing it. There is no arguing that such big moonshot ideas generate their fair share of hype. However, to dismiss these advances as perfunctory is myopic and limiting to the realities of change. Each day brings new progress in one of the most exciting industries to have developed in our lifetimes. What insurtech startups will be created to serve insurance needs for this new industry? Which new companies will become the Priceline, Expedia or Kayak of the space tourism industry? What are the new companies that will be formed to create in-space flight entertainment options? Which companies will start-up to capitalize on the fashion and clothing materials that will be worn on the trips? As you can see, there will be numerous ancillary industries that will be created as we look beyond the curve.

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