The concept of esports as a legitimate entertainment industry in recent years has been given credence due to its rapid growth and exposure. As millenials move away from traditional forms of viewing entertainment in favor of livestreaming platforms, where esports primarily is found, investors and advertisers have realized that it is through industries such as esports that they can reach millennial viewers. SuperData Research projects that by 2019, esports will generate upwards of 1.2 billion dollars in revenue, which has drawn the attention of many from outside the industry. The North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) stands as the premier competitive circuit in esports, coming the closest to traditional sports leagues in terms of structure.
With the conversation over legitimizing esports as an entertainment form growing, many have sought changes to the NA LCS to do so. Primary concerns come in the form of franchising and discipline within the league. The NA LCS currently features relegation within its league, meaning no team is guaranteed their spot for the next season, a feature not found in traditional sports. Franchising is believed to give investors and teams stability within the league without worrying that they’ll lose their investment. Issues of discipline come as a result of no third party arbitrator for the league, meaning all disciplinary rulings come directly from the developer.
Juho Hamari notes in an article discussing esports that “viewers who focus more on the aesthetic aspects may have a wholly different experience to those viewers who focus on the technical and rule-based proceedings of the sport,” highlighting the potential barrier preventing esports from reaching wider audiences (Hamari 221). Despite this, the shift in viewing habits of millenials has led advertisers and investors alike to seek out new forms of entertainment to reach them and esports is one such industry.
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