How eSports Are Raising the Bar for Live Event Tech



  • Live video game performance has gained a massive audience in recent years, raising the bar for real-time event technology integration

Cloud video provider Brightcove shares the most important aspects of a successful live eSports event

Daniel Sanders first played eSports in January 2014 and became a spectator to the live events six months later. “My favorite thing about going to an eSports event is the way all of their technology interacts,” said Sanders, who is the author of “Noob-E-Sports,” a blog for eSports newbies. “For someone who plays fantasy eSports, this gives me an even better experience. I’m able to look at how well my team is doing almost instantly. I can also watch replays on my mobile device—also instantly—and look at builds and strategies used by the pros, while I’m sitting there watching them play live.”

Sports leagues have been integrating technology into the viewing experience for some time now, but eSports are built on technology—they are video games, after all. Fans rely on tech in order to have a better live event experience. The events are often held in basketball arenas that seat up to 20,000 people or soccer stadiums that seat twice that or more (one event in 2015 had more than 100,000 spectators). But that can also cause some challenges for new fans watching a live game.

“Despite the underlying rules, viewers can likely ‘follow the action’ of traditional sports fairly quickly,” explained Albert Lai, CTO of media with Brightcove, a cloud video provider behind some of the eSports players. “But for eSports like League of Legends, while the audience can view the teams on stage, the gameplay can become extremely fast and it’s difficult for casual viewers to understand it without prior knowledge of the game mechanics and strategies.”

Fans get access anytime, anywhere

Because eSports are still on the cutting edge of sports entertainment in the United States, it would be a safe bet that the majority of fans in attendance are familiar with the games themselves. For these passionate fans, what sets eSports apart from other types of fan experiences is the accessibility during the live event.

“Accessibility can also be interpreted as the ability to interface with aspects of the game, in real time and as it’s happening,” explained Mark Smith, Brightcove’s senior director of strategic accounts. “While this is becoming more and more common in traditional sports, it’s an integral part of the eSports experience. I would challenge you to find an enthusiast watching an eSports event without at least one other conduit of consumption (cell phone, tablet, PC even) close by and engaged.”

Because the core gaming experience is digital, it also means that the sky’s the limit from an instrumentation perspective in terms of what data can be captured, processed and exposed, Lai added. Events integrate real-time view chat, statistics and social platforms into broadcasts. Fans have the option to follow the event on their smart devices while in the audience, but with a slight time delay.

Live eSports events demand the same type of production and delivery technology required by any other live sporting event to create an up close and personal experience for the fans. Where the technology differs a bit is in consumer consumption and the dependence on what Smith calls “app economy,” and making sure that the experience is high quality no matter the viewing devices and consoles.

“Real-time” has to be a reality

“The success of an eSports live event doesn’t end within the walls of the facility; it means ensuring that every viewer, whether sitting at home or watching from a park bench on their mobile phone, can experience the event as if they were in the arena,” Lai pointed out. “Consequently, the key challenge is to reduce latency; any gap or delay between the digital delivery and the ‘live’ event creates dissonance for viewers if they are watching the event in person or following any type of real-time chat or social media.”

eSports is trending upward because of two things: 1) the popularity of gaming and 2) watching tournaments is as compelling as any other live sport. At the same time, this sport built on technology is raising the tech bar for every other sporting event out there.

It may not happen immediately, but expect eSports to change the way fans view and “participate” in live events.


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