eSports U: New Data Shows Biggest Opportunities and Challenges for Collegiate eSports

2017 was a big year for collegiate eSports. The list of U.S. colleges
offering varsity eSports programs grew to at least 56 institutions.
Major universities like Georgia State University, the University of
Utah, and the University of California-Irvine started offering
scholarships to attract top players. And League of Legends
developer Riot Games partnered with the Big Ten Network to produce a
full season of collegiate games featuring schools in the Big Ten
Conference, handing out at least $300,000 in scholarships. The eSports
wave is sweeping through college athletics programs throughout the
country.

A new study by Interpret sheds more light on collegiate eSports, showing
its broad appeal among those who already watch eSports. The data
indicate that over two-thirds of eSports viewers are interested in
watching collegiate eSports. Additionally, 59% report that they would
support their local collegiate eSports team in person. The number of
viewers who have competed in collegiate eSports remains low (at 17%),
but 60% of college-aged viewers are interested in competing. This is
good news for schools looking to expand their athletics programs into
the digital frontier.

Collegiate eSports still has some hurdles before it can rival NCAA
football or basketball, however. When forced to choose between pro-level
eSports and collegiate eSports, most viewers in the study agreed that
resources should be focused on the pro-level scene. Collegiate eSports
programs also rely on recruiting gamers with scholarships for approved
eSports titles (League of Legends and Overwatch, in
most cases), but only a small minority of high school-aged gamers
currently play these titles (5% and 8%, respectively). On the other
hand, a majority of eSports viewers agree that being an eSports athlete
is a viable career. “The interest and support is clearly there for
collegiate eSports, but the infrastructure still needs to be built out
to create a clearer path from high school to college to pro-gaming,”
notes Michael Cai, President of Interpret.


CGM Newswire is a subsidiary of CGMagazine. For more information, visit our page here.

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