Play by play – an introduction to esports, monetisation and IP rights

Esports
Published: Monday, 08 June 2020. Written by Rory Scott, Jonathan Coote, Leigh Smith, Chris Yates No Comments

The Covid-19 pandemic brought traditional sport, on a global scale, to a standstill. As governments sought to control the spread of the virus, high profile leagues and tournaments (both international and national) around the world were cancelled, suspended or postponed. A void has emerged, as major international events like the 2020 Olympics and 2020 Euros have been moved into a packed 2021 calendar, with the hope that a sense of normality will have returned to the sporting schedule to allow them to go ahead.

Esports has not been immune to the consequences of the pandemic, with live events cancelled, postponed or replicated online[1] and projected revenues down (although only in the short term).[2] However, global interest in esports has intensified as sports leagues worldwide have turned to esports to continue their engagement with fans. NASCAR led the charge with its iRacing series, with drivers competing digitally through a simulation platform. Formula 1 launched the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series (with virtual races running in place of every postponed Grand Prix) and the English Premier League's inaugural ePremierLeague Invitational (in which celebrities and Premier League players represented their team in a knockout tournament to raise money for charity) attracted 150 million viewers across platforms including YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Twitter and Sky Sports live. It has even been suggested that Covid-19 may lead to the normalisation of esports, thanks to the "unprecedented (and accidental) adoption of esports by broadcasters, leagues and athletes seeking to engage fans".[3]

This article provides an introduction to the world of esports, the key stakeholders involved and some of the challenges facing an industry that was expected to reach a global audience exceeding 440 million viewers last year[4] and is forecast to generate between c. US$1.8 billion[5] and US$3 billion[6] in revenue by 2022.  In particular, we look at the monetisation of esports, and how intellectual property (IP) rights (and the enforcement of such rights) will be of seminal importance for the key stakeholders involved, as well as shaping how the industry develops in the years to come.  The sub-sections in this article are:

  • What is esports?
  • The rise of esports
  • Who are the key stakeholders?
  • Monetising esports – revenue streams
  • Monetising esports – the importance of IP rights and their enforcement
  • What next for esports?

The authors are aware that readers will have varying levels of knowledge about esports. Readers who are already familiar with the basic ecosystem can skip straight to the sections on monetisation.

Continue reading this article...

Register with your email and password
Already a member? Sign in

Get access to all of the expert analysis and commentary at LawInSport including articles, webinars, conference videos and podcast transcripts.  Find out more here.

Related Articles

About the Author

Rory Scott

Rory Scott

Associate, Clifford Chance

Rory is experienced in a broad range of litigation and arbitration matters, with a particular focus on the sports industry. Rory also advises on regulatory investigations into financial services clients. Rory is a keen sportsman, having played football and rugby throughout school and university. He still plays football for his boyhood club Wheathampstead Wanderers, abiding by a footballing philosophy that every second touch should be a tackle.

Firm profile available here.

Full profile available here.

Jonathan Coote

Jonathan Coote

Trainee, Clifford Chance

Jonathan Coote is a trainee in Litigation & Dispute Resolution having previously sat in the IP/TMT team. Jonathan has assisted on a variety of IP and contentious matters including in the media, technology and financial sectors. Jonathan is a fan of sports and gaming, spending his teenage years both captaining his rugby club (Oxford Harlequins) and playing World of Warcraft. Although injuries curtailed his rugby career, he still enjoys running and gaming.

Firm profile available here.

Leigh Smith

Leigh Smith

Senior Associate, Clifford Chance

Leigh advises on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious intellectual property matters, with a particular focus on trade marks. Leigh is a keen football fan, and can still be found plodding around 5-a-side pitches in East London on a regular basis despite his advancing years. He also enjoys running.

Firm profile available here.

Full profile available here.

Chris Yates

Chris Yates

Partner, Clifford Chance

Chris is a litigation partner with a wealth of experience in cross-border commercial and corporate litigation, international arbitration, cross-jurisdictional enforcement proceedings and multi-jurisdiction regulatory investigations. Chris leads the firm's sports sector practice in London

Firm profile available here.

Full profile available here.

Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.

Copyright © LawInSport Limited 2010 - 2020. These pages contain general information only. Nothing in these pages constitutes legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter. The information provided here was accurate as of the day it was posted; however, the law may have changed since that date. This information is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. LawInSport is not responsible for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this information. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.