Ready Player AV?

My university, a small liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere, recently announced an esports team and hired a coach.

That’s surprising to many alumni who don’t realize the esports audience has grown to 474 million globally. (If it were a country, the esports population would make it onto the Worldometer list as the third-largest country in the world — about the size of the population of the U.S. and Russia together!)

But this probably is not surprising news for some AV companies like Crestron. A private liberal arts college, Carroll University, in America, opened a new esports center for competitive and recreational gaming opportunities — and it features Crestron DM NVX AV-over-IP technology which distributes esports video throughout the space.

Across the world, colleges and universities now understand how important it is to add esports to appeal to the latest generation of students. It doesn’t take a college degree to recognize how esports is exploding in education — and in some other of ProAV’s most important verticals. In residential, some owners now want esports rooms as much as baby boomers wanted home cinema rooms.

In arenas and sport stadia, esports can draw crowds of 45,000 tickets (pre-pandemic, of course) and a 50-million audience watching online (or even larger audience during the pandemic, of course). Pro sports stadiums — and even Olympic stadiums — have hosted major esports tournaments.

In hospitality, there are plenty of hotels around the world beginning to integrate computer gaming or esports areas into their premises. Luxor Las Vegas opened its the HyperX Esports Arena in June 2020. Don’t like the Strip? Try the Downtown Grand in Vegas.

In Osaka in Japan, there’s the Esports Hotel E-Zone Cyberspace, which keeps sleeping arrangements simple and functional so that guests can focus instead on state-of-the-art gaming facilities.

ready player av

In Europe, try The Arcade Hotel in Amsterdam or book your ISE 2021 trip in the Arcade Hotel in Barcelona. The iHotel in Taiwan stocks every room with high-tech gaming equipment and its very own mini esports arena.

Research by gamer authority Newzoo expects growth in gaming to continue through 2021, with 8.7% year-on-year growth, ending the year with 240.0 million occasional viewers and 234.0 million esports enthusiasts, a total esports audience of 474.0 million.

european esports audience growth graph

While the gaming livestreaming audience for 2020 was 662.7 million, Newzoo predicts further growth of 10.0% to 728.8 million viewers in 2021. By 2024, they believe that the global gaming livestreaming audience will be 830.3 million, a CAGR of 9.2% over 2019-2024.

On the gaming platform Twitch, in the first six months of 2021, 792 billion minutes of gaming were watched. There are now 9.3 million unique creators streaming each month on Twitch.

The fact is that esports has jumped the chasm and is no longer niche, but mainstream. Boomer-led AV integrators may miss embracing this opportunity because esports is a generational difference. Yet, it’s the mainstream of gaming, not a struggle of talented players going pro to compete at the highest levels. Yankee Stadium is where pros play, but the power of the Yankees is with how many people want to watch, how many fans follow every game passionately.

All that “watching,” in the case of esports, means displays, streaming, superior audio, distributed real-time video and more for ProAV professionals.

Many integrators passed on the first round of esports, thinking it might be a fad. Others passed on the second wave because it seemed best left to specialists who combined arena know-how with IT. Now esports is seeping throughout AV verticals, popping up in the customers where you are already supplying AV.

And that leaves the question: Will that university or hotel (the one that is your customer for AV) call you for their new esports needs?

Or maybe you should call them.

Ready Player AV?