The ongoing Coronavirus crisis has seen the unprecedented cancellation of all professional sports, college sports, and live broadcasts. In light of this situation, fans have turned to online gaming and Esports to help fill the sports entertainment void.

Esports is a rapidly growing industry, and especially now that professional sports leagues such as the NBA, NHL, MLB and La Liga have suspended games for the foreseeable future. These leagues are now starting to take action by focusing their audiences towards Esports alternatives.

Although there was already a vast Esports community, an increasing number of people are now flocking to sites such as Twitch, where members stream their matches online and viewers are able to communicate with one another.

Teams and brands are now looking toward these digital platforms to engage with fans and activate sponsors. Brands can build their online community by using the online chat system, while also creating engaging activations that will make their viewers want to return to their channel.

With much of the world in lockdown, Esports is also bringing fans together in a virtual way. One example is the Phoenix Suns who have begun playing their regular season games on NBA 2K, streaming these on their Twitch channel. This allows players to engage during isolation while continuing to let them play the game they love. And the results can be seriously impressive. The Suns played their first game against the Minnesota Timberwolves to an audience of 221,000 viewers on Twitch, according to Forbes.

Watch the games here:

With students finishing the school year online and most employees working from home, Esports is providing a safe form of sports entertainment during the lockdown. Twitch has already seen an increase of 19.9% of its viewers, according to the analysis site Sully Gnome.

Audiences are eager to have sports back in their lives. So for brands and sports sponsors, the question is: how best to reach their target audiences and create valuable virtual engagement. Greater diversification in Esports viewers and players means advertisers must look to tailor their messaging and creative to engage these audiences effectively.


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Written by Megan Anderson