This isn’t a sideshow.
That was the assessment from the head of the Beasley Media Group when asked about the company’s decision to invest earlier this month in the growing eSports market with the acquisition of the lifestyle radio show CheckPoint Radio.
According to Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley, the eSports arena is being seen as a key means of reaching future generations of listeners. And unlike other ventures in which a big traditional media company swoops in and makes changes to what it may see as a secondary property, that is not Beasley’s goal here, she said.
During a podcast conversation with two CheckPoint Radio hosts after making the acquisition earlier this month, Caroline Beasley said the show’s current success speaks to the market that it’s trying to reach. “You’re on over 60 radio stations in the U.S. and Canada, and you reach over a million listeners. You’ve done that without a lot of resources, which speaks to the content you are generating,” she said.
The acquisition, which came at the same time as the company announced its sports initiative Beasley XP, “validates the eSports scene as a whole as we’ve struggled to get recognition that people do enjoy this,” said host Joe Sloan. “Beasley is the first company that I didn’t have to explain what the value of [an eSports radio program] was.”
Industry numbers seem to bear out the assessment that the eSports market is a significant one.
According to a report by Deloitte Insight, Asia and North America represent the two largest eSports markets, with the U.S. generating US$328 in 2016.
According to the report, by 2019 the projected global audience is expected to hit $427 million worldwide. By 2020, the global eSports market is expected to generate $1.5 billion in annual revenues.
The expanding eSports audience includes a new 30,000-square -foot eSports arena at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas as well as new million-dollar arenas in Dallas and Lakewood, Colo.
The Golden State Warriors announced an inaugural roster of eSports teammates for 2018 while earlier this year, a university in Florida announced plans to build an 11,000-square-foot arena for the university’s new eSports team.
In general, the Deloitte report found, the players and fans within this market tend to be part of an audience moving beyond the reach of traditional media: they are younger, are less likely to watch linear programming, and less interested in professional sports than the population as a whole.
As a result, for many media and entertainment businesses, “eSports offers a way to reach a demographic that’s been increasingly beyond their grasp,” the article’s authors wrote.
When it comes to CheckPoint Radio, the program is billed as gaming radio for gamers by gamers. The two-hour program airs on affiliates such as WBZ(FM)/98.5 MHz The Sports Hub in Boston and WPEN(FM)/97.5 MHz The Fanatic in Philadelphia as well on other nationwide and Canadian markets via Westwood One. The program also airs on the Twitch streaming platform.
For Beasley, the move dovetails with the company’s goal of making innovative moves in the media market. One major factor in the company’s decision to invest in CheckPoint is that “It’s about providing different content,” Caroline Beasley said. “It’s about having more access to Gen Z’s and Millennials.”