The North East knows all too well how powerful sports teams can be within a local economy. It’s a sports-crazed region, and when players and teams prove themselves as worthy of local adoration, they’ll continue to see income from fans as well as the subsequent increases elsewhere, primarily through partnerships and advertising.

Right now, the newest sport on the scene is that of esports. The professional competitive gaming scene is flying, continuing to dazzle industry experts with its continued growth. Globally, 2020 will show a year-on-year increase in revenues of +15.7 per cent to $1.1 billion, with the UK sector also showing average annual growth of 8.5 per cent from 2016 to 2019 according to UKIE.

With a fully-fledged organisation being all-but absent in the North East, the idea of gaming offering booming business is strange to many, but organisations around the globe continue to prove its validity.

The business of esports doesn’t wholly concern gate tickets

While sports like football and rugby rely a great deal on gate tickets and broadcasting rights, esports makes its money through several other means. The events are primarily free or low-cost to watch from anywhere in the world, via streaming platforms like Twitch. While broadcasting deals are starting to become commonplace, the revenue is primarily driven by sponsorship and advertising.

As esports like League of Legends command 348.8 million hours of viewing per year, the incredibly accessible viewing makes sponsorship and participation very appealing. With Twitch providing a vast audience and interest growing for the major live tournaments, esports is now in association with several new sectors.

Advertisers across the board prove to be the industry’s main source of income. At the same time British companies like Game sell official esports team apparel for the same price as Newcastle United shirts, and betting companies like the Betsafe esports odds platform offer markets for all tournaments in gaming, from the biggest clashes in DOTA 2 to the regional and regular meets of CS:GO.

When companies like these decide to tailor an offering towards esports, they further its appeal and ecosystem through engagement. It’s all of these aspects that are helping to get more people watching and make branding and advertising more valuable. In fact, sponsorship deals alone generate over $630 million for the industry.

Creating a space in esports, creating North East jobs

Of course, developing a local team that’s capable of competing at a high level will open up tremendous new avenues of sponsorship and advertising for North East companies. With that money, new esports franchises can create jobs – and not just by way of players and coaches.

The Venturebeat jobs page for esports posted nearly 2,500 vacancies in the first half of 2018 alone, with the scene expanding tremendously since. The site regularly sees posts for jobs like tournament organisers, internal travel agents, analysts, game house managers, and freelance meme specialists. An esports franchise needs to be connected across the board, from the players to the community, to the online world.

Still only three-years-old, the organisation 100 Thieves has proven that esports brands can expand exponentially in a short space of time. They have been cautious when expanding the number of teams that they run in competition, but alongside the esports, 100 Thieves is a lifestyle brand, selling apparel and creating online content while also battling in League of Legends, Fortnite, Call of Duty, and Valorant.

A huge space is opening up for esports, especially as it doesn’t solely rely on a local audience. That said, in the sports-obsessed North East, with the right build, an esports franchise could do very well both in and for the region.