The growth in esports

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The popularity of esports continues to grow. From televised programming and the opportunity of betting on teams – it's becoming the real deal. According to the Washington Post earlier this year more than 100 million tuned in to the 2017 League of Legends Championship alone. The same article states that a poll reported 58% of 14 to 21-year-olds said they watched live or recorded videos of people playing computer games.

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One popular computer game is FIFA. And since 2016 it has notably garnered more popularity with professional football clubs as many have gone on to hire players to represent their team as ambassadors.

German Bundesliga outfit VfL Wolfsburg hit the news when they appointed a British player as one of their two official FIFA players back in February 2016. Several clubs have since followed suit.

Why? There's lots of money in esports these days. As well as having television shows attracting sponsors, many bookmakers offer the opportunity of esports betting. The market is only going to grow further over the next few years. Gaming is already a huge hobby and now it is an opportunity for many to call their profession.

The theory behind hiring a player, or an ambassador, representing professional football clubs at FIFA competitions, is to grow the clubs' support. FIFA has been around since 1994 but only in recent years have professional football clubs looked to take advantage of gamers as part of growing their brand and attracting new fans. Whether it's worked for any club is anyone's guess. Their target audience is the younger generation of course.

“Why are you a Wolfsburg fan?”

“Because they are the current FIFA competition champions.”

Yeah, I'm not sure that's going to happen, but I'm no expert on branding with computer games. But it appeals to the younger generation, who spend hours watching charismatic gamers playing and talking about computer games on the likes of Twitch and YouTube.

FIFA has great potential for growth in the esports scene, given that it is already one of the most popular console games. The Wembley Cup is already one competition being run – featuring football legends like Robert Pires and Jamie Carragher, hosted at Wembley Stadium and sponsored by EA Sports.

It's just a matter of time before the live streaming of the event becomes more and more popular and even potentially moves onto television. With that, you can expect sponsorship revenue to go through the roof.

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