The COVID-19 crisis postponed most sports competitions on March 11, but esports is gaining extreme popularity and mainstream adoption during this quarantine era. Soccer has found esports as the perfect way to reinvent competition and pass the time, while bringing fans from across the world along for the ride.
Esports offers a unique opportunity to generate entertaining content, strengthen ties with fans, and show the funny and human side of elite soccer. As we’ve seen recently, players and teams from around the world are landing on Twitch, the epicenter for esports and streaming, sharing their play on such games as FIFA, Fortnite, Call of Duty, and League of Legends.
Agüero Phenomenon: From Goalscorer to Streamer
On April 12, Sergio Agüero held his first Twitch live broadcast. His authentic, spontaneous, and uncensored comments are making Agüero one of the biggest stars during quarantine. After only five weeks, Agüero’s Twitch channel earned more than 1 million followers and 2.7 million video views, and he sees close to 32,000 people tune in for live broadcasts.
The popularity of the Manchester City player is also spreading on Twitter, where he interacts with famous Spanish streamers. Since Agüero moved from goalscorer to esports star, he gained 35,000 followers on Twitter.
The Argentine is the perfect success story of how an athlete translates his popularity into esports — a mix of social media, entertainment, and business is a winning formula. Agüero wears Puma (the brand sponsors him and his Manchester City team) during most of his Twitch broadcasts — which have earned more than $113,000 in potential value to date.
Fans & Sports Stars — Becoming Friends from Afar
Agüero’s FIFA, Fortnite, and CoD War Zone adventures and growing popularity earned him invites to participate in gaming events such as ‘La ChampPlay’, a FIFA tournament with outstanding Latin American soccer players, Red Bull Racing’s F1 Tournament, and an NBA2K challenge against Courtois. One of the perks of soccer moving to esports: attracting new audiences and gaining new sports stars as friends!
Other soccer players who’ve started to dip their toes into esports, include Joao Félix, Reguilón, and Courtois. The Atlético de Madrid striker broadcasts his play on YouTube, where he has close to 220,000 subscribers; while the Sevilla and Real Madrid players use Twitch as their streaming platform of choice, with 100,000 followers. Similar to Agüero, these soccer stars are participating in online tournaments and have even created their own.
Ibai Llanos, Spain’s most famous caster and streamer, organized one of the biggest, most popular esports events with LaLiga: a FIFA tournament broadcast on Twitch, with soccer players from the 20 LaLiga teams. LaLiga, players, teams, and media companies used the hashtag #LaLigaSantanderChallenge, and it received nearly $3.5 million in earned media exposure. This idea was later replicated by Bundesliga and Eurocup, among others.
While competition continues to take a break, clubs like Real Madrid are getting the Twitch itch — the team created a Twitch channel two months ago and already has 28,000 followers. Many other athletes are playing FIFA or PES, giving fans the match ups that would have been played in stadiums, except now we’re all on the same playing field — inside our homes, as we sit on the couch. 🙂