Telecom giants look to online sports leagues as a way of attracting younger clients searching for high speed internet. And as Matthew Larotonda reports, some gamers are even making a living from it.
Some of Europe's biggest telecom companies are pouring money into high-profile, and multi-million dollar, video game tournaments. looking to spread their namebrands to audiences that crave high speed Internet and reliability. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) TELEFONICA'S DIRECTOR OF TELEVISION STRATEGY FOR MOVISTAR+, IGNACIO FERNANDEZ VEGA, SAYING: "We think it's a new category of entertainment mixed with sport that allows us to reach a specific audience. The target of this sector is a target we believe has great value because it is a young target which in addition we believe is the future." Telecom giants Vodafone, Orange, and Spain's Telefonica among the biggest investors, sponsoring massive leagues and teams. None of them have disclosed how much they've invested, but Reuters understands a quick return on investment is seen as thier chief concern. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MOVISTAR RIDERS LEAGUE OF LEGENDS PLAYER, ANDRE COSTA AKA "LASTWOLF," SAYING: "It feels super good. Before you would play video games and you would be like, I wish I could play video games for a living, and now you can. Basically now you can play, get paid for it and have a job doing what you like, so it feels amazing." That $500 million benchmark is tiny compared to mainstream sports like football and basketball. Yet according to estimates by JPMorgan, in 10 years Esports could reach revenues it took 50 years for the big leagues to achieve. But even they're taking notice. The U.S. National Basketball Association, for example, will be sponsoring their own digital league for 17 of its 30 teams. Regardless, Esports may need a little time to mature before investors go all-in. Unlike the NBA or FIFA, ESports have a multitude of games, leagues, teams, competitions, and viewing platforms with little in the way of a governing body.