Comcast Enters the Arena

Added 2019-03-28

On March 25, Comcast announced plans for a $50 million esports arena in Philadelphia. Fusion Arena will be located in the Philadelphia Sports Complex and accommodate up to 3,500 guests. The venue will serve as home to the competing in the Overwatch League Philadelphia Fusion team and host different live entertainment events. Comcast claims that the arena will be "the largest, new-construction, purpose-built esports arena in the western hemisphere."



Back in 1972, Stanford University held what is considered the first esports tournament. The participants competed in Spacewar and the prize was a year's subscription to Rolling Stone. Esports have made huge since the 70s: a variety of tournaments, televised events, professional leagues, and a push to making it an Olympic sport. The inaugural season of Overwatch League had a prize pool of $3.5 million. The trend is clearly positive for esports. Newzoo projects that in 2019 total esports revenues will exceed $1 billion for the first time and total esports audience will grow 15% year-over-year.


Source: Newzoo


The synergy with overall video games market has also helped esports. Since its introduction in 2011, video games streaming platform Twitch has reached over 15 million active users. Both Google and Apple have recently announced video game streaming services. The number of people attending esports events has been constantly growing.


Source: SBRnet

Comcast has made a number of forays into esports over the years. Besides being the owner of Philadelphia Fusion team, the company signed brand sponsorship agreements with ESL and Evil Geniuses in 2016, invested in amateur esports network N3rd Street Gamers in 2018, and launched a joint esports partnership with South Korean SK Telecom last month.  

There is a lot of uncertainty about the potential of esports. The process of establishing an esports league as a commercial powerhouse will take time. The first game in Fusion Arena will be played in 2021 and, while the global esports audience will likely continue to expand, the popularity of a specific game may wane. Having said that, Comcast is well-positioned to take advantage of growing esports market.

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