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USF Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program Serves Up its USF Esports Summit on Virtual Stage

By Keith Morelli

Game Controller

TAMPA (September 16, 2020) -- Rivaling professional sports on the field and in arenas, esports is catching on across the nation and the world. Now a global, multi-billion-dollar business, esports reached an audience of 380 million people in 2019. Industry observers expect that number to increase to 557 million by 2021.

To keep pace, the USF Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program is staging its second USF Esports Summit in October. The event last year filled the Muma College of Business atrium and included prominent industry guest speakers and panel discussions about the state of the industry and trends. This year, the summit, cosponsored by Tampa Bay Sports &Entertainment, takes place in a virtual format and that could draw even more attendees.

The growth of the industry is exponential revenues topping $1.65 billion in North America alone.

“These staggering stats, along with the predictions for additional revenue growth as the market continues to innovate, will only attract new investment,” said Michelle Harrolle, director of the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program. “The summit, as it did last year, will take an informed look at the high-growth esports Industry from an insider’s perspective.”

The product is the gamers, whose fiercely loyal fans watch high-intensity competitions through streaming services or even in large arenas, where players compete against each other for millions of dollars in prize money.

Who should attend the summit and why?

Harrolle said anyone interested in or currently doing business with esports will benefit from learning the cutting-edge trends in the field. The program features keynote presentations and discussions with top esports industry leaders and experts examining the industry’s current landscape and future. The summit, which takes place from 1-4 p.m. on Oct. 14, also offers opportunities to connect with regional and global esports experts and executives. Registration begins on Monday, Sept. 21, and costs $26.50. University students will be admitted free. To register, click here.

While insiders are well aware of the growing acceptance and influence of the industry, much of the general population is in the dark about it. What exactly is video gaming? Gaming involves competing, like any other sport, except the players are in front of consoles working joysticks and buttons, playing games with other competitors at the same time. The contests play out on large screens in arenas that everyone can see, or streamed into homes where fans can watch on their own computer screens.

Last year, the video-game Fortnite crowned a champion, a 16-year-old gamer who walked away with a $3 million prize to the cheers of 15,000 fans crowded into a New York arena. His winnings were only part of the $30 million purse awarded to other contestants along the way.

Playing video games for fun – and now profit – is as close to mainstream entertainment as it can, industry observers say, and is positioning itself as what may be the next prime-time phenomenon.