The English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has appointed Strive Sponsorship to evaluate the potential of video gaming and esports as a platform to engage young people.
The move reflects the continued growth the global esports audience, especially in emerging markets, which gaming analytics specialist Newzoo forecasts to reach a 454 million in 2019, rising to 645 million by the end of 2022.
The numbers are only a fraction of the wider gaming community, with 619.5 million active gamers in China alone.
Mobile gaming is a particular growth sector, responsible for 49% ($63.2bn), of the games industry’s annual revenue in 2018.
Strive Sponsorship explains that such numbers and the associated first-party data opportunity are prompting traditional rightholders to act. Managing Director Malph Minns said: "Gaming and esports undoubtedly have the potential to offer a variety of opportunities to traditional sports rightsholders, broadcasters, brands and investors. However these need to be carefully navigated in order to deliver returns. We're really excited to work with ECB to explore the potential positive impacts of both on cricket.”
David Mahoney, Chief Operating Officer at ECB, added: "We constantly monitor social trends, and keep abreast of innovation in other sports and industries, to see what can be learned. We’re keen to better understand the space and need a blend of gaming and esports knowledge, combined with strong sports rightsholder experience, to help us achieve this.
Strive’s strong reputation and experience in what is a new and very complex space, gives us great confidence that we are getting the best impartial advice available.”