During the first half of 2016, says analyst Manny Anekal, a longtime veteran of the gaming business, things were moving "quickly." But by the second half, "it was absolutely crazy." The influx of new money goosed player salaries and team valuations. Of course, taken in context, such numbers hardly compare to revenue figures in the traditional sports world.
The most recent NBA media rights deal, signed between the NBA, ESPN and Turner Sports in 2014, added up to billion over 9 years. The game publishers make all the rules and hold most of the cards.
But it's his son's generation that has pushed gaming culture to a point few people could have predicted.
The emergence, over the last decade, of a global scene in which millions of people spend their disposable hours on Twitch or You Tube watching live streams of their favorite gamers, is a grassroots phenomenon that just kind of happened on its own.
Fans figured out what they most loved to do in the world, and now the rest of the world is catching up.
Game publishers, says Pieter van den Heuvel, an analyst who covers esports for the market research firm Newzoo, originally saw "esports as a marketing tool to drive player engagement." No single publisher did this better than Riot with League of Legends.
"Rick's an LA guy and I'm a Boston girl," she tells the publication. They all have the obligatory storage spaces in the Valley." The actress lived in LA for 22 years, and does not intend to abandon her entertainment career.
He is casually recounting a now-familiar story: how bonding with his son over World of Warcraft and League of Legends encouraged him to plunge headfirst into the exploding universe of professional gaming. As a traditional "stick and ball" star athlete, Fox embodies a career path familiar to mainstream America.And suddenly, he said, it's as if he'd personally built "the Golden Gate Bridge between esports and traditional sports." It was a neat trick: Fox managed to legitimize esports both for its existing fans: look, the mainstream world is paying attention; and for his peers, hey, if Rick Fox is buying a team maybe we should too. In March, a consortium fronted by Sacramento Kings owner Andy Miller, Shaquille O' Neal, and Alex Rodriguez bought the League of Legends team NRG.