‘Awful Business’ Or The New Gold Rush? The Most Valuable Companies In Esports Are Surging

December 2, 2019

The video game lifestyle company has amassed 19 million social followers across YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, more than the Dallas Cowboys (7.2 million) and the New York Yankees (6 million) combined. Last month, it hopped on the esports franchise trend, licensing its name to Atlanta Esports Ventures’s Call of Duty League team, the Atlanta FaZe, and it says it’s landed a string of seven-figure sponsorship deals from companies that include Nissan and Gfuel.

The Atlanta FaZe partnership was the first of its kind for the nine-year-old company, which sponsors more than 40 individual video game players competing in six different gaming titles. FaZe Clan has a value of $240 million, landing it at No. 4 on the second annual Forbes ranking of the most valuable esports organizations.

“I wouldn’t trade businesses with anyone else on this list,” says Lee Trink, FaZe Clan’s co-owner and CEO.

He has a reason to be cocky. Video game competitions reach a global audience of 454 million, with at least 190 million more expected to be watching in three years, per industry analysts Newzoo. The average fan, according to Nielsen, is a millennial male, makes nearly $70,000 a year and favors streaming platforms like Twitch, YouTube and Mixer over traditional television. Sponsorship, advertising and media rights have almost doubled since 2017, to $897 million.

All told, global revenue for esports will reach $1.1 billion this year, up 27% from 2018, with North America accounting for 40% of that pie. Forbes now counts 13 companies with a value of more than $100 million, with the average valuation hitting $217 million, up 52% over last year.

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