The booming eSports industry could be worth as much as $138 billion in 2018, according to market research firm Newzoo, and as reported by CNBC. The high-flying market, which has grown an impressive 13.3% from last year, up $16.2 billion, is benefiting from traction from new video game content, products and gaming events around the world. Market analysts see the rapidly growing eSports fan base and the expansion of its offerings as an opportunity for investors to cash in on profits as the broader market suffers through a period of heightened volatility and uncertainty. (See also: EA—the 'Netflix of Gaming'—Is a Bargain: Needham.)
"No question this is changing the landscape for media companies and how people are participating in sports," said Tim Seymour, managing partner and co-founder at Triogem Asset Management, in an interview with CNBC's "Fast Money."
The hedge fund manager pointed to the rising popularity of eSports events as an indicator of the market opportunity. Last week, Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI) hosted its first ever Grand Finals for its mega-franchise "Overwatch," and sold out Brooklyn's Barclays Center. The futuristic team-based shooter game marks Activision's $8 billion franchise, securing that spot in less than a year after its May 2016 release next to titles like "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft."
eSports: Transforming Media and Sports
"The fan base is rabid," said Seymour. "The excitement is there. And it's all demographics. It's not just guys. It's not just girls. It's not just young folks. It's old folks." According to Newzoo, which tracks usage and trends in eSports, video games and mobile, about 2.3 billion gamers around the world will shell out $137.9 billion on games this year. Seymour added that media giants are now getting into eSports, with the Walt Disney Co. (DIS) broadcasting "Overwatch" games on ESPN.
Big money is being made buying teams and video game platforms. Jack Etienne, the owner of the eSports team London Spitfire, told CNBC he made roughly $1 million dollars from winning the recent "Overwatch" event.
Etienne added that investors can invest in products and video content intended to improve the user experience, such as entertainment software and video games published Blizzard Entertainment, which is owned by Activision. (See also: Snap Inc. to Launch Gaming Platform This Fall.)