3 Esports Execs On How COVID-19 Shifted Landscape, Growth Ahead: 'The Only Game In Town'

When the NBA suspended its season due to the coronavirus pandemic, NBA players pivoted to streaming and participated in esports competitions. 

That's one example of how the pandemic has affected esports, 

Jeff Cohen, vice president of strategy and investor relations at Esports Entertainment Group GMBL, told the first-ever Benzinga Small Cap Conference on Wednesday. 

“Esports was the only game in town at one time,” he said.

“Some of the esports leagues did a good job transitioning from physical to digital.”

Esports Crosses Over In 2020: The growing esports industry was discussed in a panel moderated by Michael Aiello of Centri Business Consulting.

The panel included Cohen; Konrad Wasiela, CEO of ESE Entertainment ENTEF; and John Fazio, CEO of Nerd Street Gamers

The trend of games becoming more like social platforms was also highlighted by Cohen as a way for people to connect with friends and family while staying socially distant.

Wasiela noted the crossover into other industries, such as a performance by Travis Scott in "Fortnite."

ESE Entertainment is working with music companies to partner on esports content, he said. 

Esports Growth Ahead: Fazio expects high schools and colleges to continue to add esports teams.

More linear and mainstream media companies need to pick up esports content in order to bring in new fans, he said. 

“We make assumptions all are watching on Twitch,” Fazio said referring to the Amazon.com, Inc. AMZN-owned streaming platform.

Linear is a hidden value proposition, and there is still a mass amount of content up for grabs in esports, he said. 

The Nerd Street Gamers CEO said he projects a return to bookings growth around the third quarter of 2021 in the U.S. 

“As far as large stadiums, it could be 2022 before we see them again.”

The Nerd Street Gamers, FiveBelow Partnership: Fazio highlighted his company’s backing by Comcast Inc CMCSA and Five Below Inc FIVE.

The partnership will see Five Below build esports training facilities as standalones with their own entrances that are adjacent to the retail stores.

“When we open those, we’re able to connect with local high schools and organizations.”

Posted In: COVID-19 PandemiceSportsSmall Cap ConferenceTwitchvideo gamesNewsSmall CapSportsEventsTop StoriesTechGeneral

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