Esports is the new ESPN: gaming expert

Esports has caught the attention of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft along with former sports superstars Shaquille O’Neal and Alex Rodriguez – and for good reason, according to Gamer World News Entertainment CEO Gayle Dickie, who compared the gaming industry to ESPN.

“It’s no different … than back 40 years ago when Bill Rasmussen started ESPN and we all wanted to watch traditional sports,” Dickie told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on “Varney & Co.”

Except now the multibillion dollar industry is playing in 196 countries around the world, has caught the attention of millennials who are eager to watch and get better at playing video games. The growing enthusiasm has led to events selling out famous sports arenas,  including New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden and The Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“In a stadium,” she said, “it’s really kind of no different than when you go to a stadium to watch a baseball game.”

This year alone the gaming industry raked in about $106 million in advertising, media rights and sponsorships, she said, and the industry is expected to produce $1.6 billion in revenue by 2021.

The rise of esports has also been an extravagant source of income for professional gamers and streamers (people who stream video games). Top players can earn as much as $3.5 million annually, while streamers can make over $1,000,000 a month, according to Dickie.

“It’s definitely the time when esports is taking center stage,” she said. “I think it’s arrived. This is the year of esports.”