Esports Media Rights - Fall 2021

[co-authors: Zyie Lin and Cole Smith, FTI Consulting, Inc.]

It is no secret that the popularity of both professional and amateur esports and gaming has exploded over the last 18 months – despite (and, perhaps, in part because of) a global pandemic. Notwithstanding the exponential growth–including in both viewership and revenue – there remain several fundamental challenges for this nascent industry. We believe many of these challenges arise from the unique relationship between esports organizations and the game publishers who own the intellectual property driving the ecosystem. The implications of this unique relationship on the procurement, exploitation and intrinsic value of media rights represents a microcosm of these challenges, and illustrates the still-untapped potential of what is an increasingly popular global form of entertainment.

This whitepaper reviews the current state of the esports market and analyzes the challenges facing the exploitation of esports’ media rights. We provide a comparison of esports and gaming media rights to those of traditional sports. We then discuss our proposals for how to increase rights values, highlight success stories in which the traditional sports industry overcame similar problems and identify unique elements of the esports ecosystem that could be a basis for maximizing the value of esports media rights.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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