The Yankees are the latest traditional sports power to enter the surging professional video game world. On Thursday, the Bombers announced a partnership with Vision Esports.
“The New York Yankees are thrilled to partner with Vision Esports and its diverse portfolio of esports companies,” Hal Steinbrenner said in press release announcing the partnership. “Guided by an impressively skilled and sports-savvy leadership team, Vision Esports is transcending the industry with a bold, innovative approach to their business, and we are excited to enter into this dynamic arena as their partner.”
Vision Esports is the largest shareholder of three esports entities. According to the Yankees, they will partner to “create and manage an ‘ecosystem’ of esports properties that include Echo Fox, Twin Galaxies, and Vision Entertainment.” The Yankees will lend their extensive marketing and sponsorship heft to the brands during a time when many pro sports franchises are getting into video games.
Earlier this year, Mets ownership purchased an esports franchise that will be based in New York and will begin competing some time next year.
Mets owner Jeff Wilpon recently told the Daily News that Sterling VC, which owns the baseball team, targeted esports because of the amazing growth opportunity.
“It’s new,” Wilpon said. “We had been looking, through Sterling VC, at a couple of different things that we could invest in and do and when Overwatch came about as an opportunity back in March, we really liked the model that they have. It’s really more of a city-by-city sports league versus a team-by-team sports league or a team-by-team league that plays in different venues and we thought it was a very good opportunity for us at the VC firm.”
To date, the owners of the Devils, 76ers, Patriots and Rams have all entered the esports business. And why wouldn’t they? Professional video gaming is a massive industry around the world and it is just beginning to take hold here in the U.S. The esports audience is estimated at more than 300 million people this year around the world. By 2020, that number is expected to double. Esports is also being considered as an event at the 2024 Olympics.
According to a recent study conducted by Limelight Networks, most young men between 18 and 25 years old prefer watching esports over traditional sports like baseball and football. Limelight found 22 percent of American millennial males watch esports events and consume esports more than any other form of entertainment except for movies.
Sports ranked fourth on the list behind movies, TV, and esports.
Echo Fox is owned by former NBA player and actor Rick Fox, who bought the organization for $1 million two years ago. Fox has since attempted to change the culture of professional video gaming, bringing his knowledge of sports training and nutrition to the industry.
Echo Fox is a professional video game organization that includes teams that compete in a host of games including “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3,” “Street Fighter V,” and “Super Smash Bros.”
“The New York Yankees brand is synonymous with success and we are thrilled to welcome the organization to the Vision Esports team,” Stratton Sclavos, general partner of Vision Esports, said. “In every business, you are known by the company you keep, and we cannot be more pleased to be a part of the New York Yankees organization.”