Bart Simpson has encountered many things, though he hasn’t found himself what could be the next billion-dollar industry: esports. Well, that it up until Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons” titled “E My Sports.” The perennial Springfield Elementary School student became an electronic sports athlete after getting a new computer.
Bart essentially glued himself to “Conflict of Enemies,” based on Tencent-owned publisher Riot Games’ “League of Legends” game. Once realizing just how much money could be made in esports, he travels to Seoul to play in a world championship match, in which his dad Homer acted as his coach.
Co-executive producer Rob LaZebnik said the episode was intended to embody a “cultural tipping point” that has seen esports control conversation regarding the future of entertainment, sports and media, as CNBC reports.
“I think it feels kind of inevitable,” LaZebnik stated. “Obviously, video games have been around for a very long time now, and combine that with the fact that everyone is online and on his or her phone, [the expansion of esports] feels so inevitable to me.”
“League of Legends” is just one key game that has driven the growth of epsorts for years. It even gained almost 100 million unique viewers, which nearly amounts to the same number that watched this year’s NFL Super Bowl.
Research firm Newzoo estimates that the global esports audience, including casual and dedicated viewers, will reach nearly 454 million this year. In addition, Newzoo reports that company sponsorships could account for up to 42 percent of the $1.1 billion in revenue.
“We hope that this episode, on top of all the work we’re doing around the world establishing leagues that are working with leading brands like Nike and Mercedes-Benz, as well as the rising popularity of streamers and pro players, will make a real impact on how people view ‘League of Legends’ esports in the long term,” a Riot representative told CNBC.
“There’s many young kids out there who will empathize with this episode on ‘The Simpsons’ more than any other football, soccer or basketball episode they’ve created — just like I would have,” he said. “It’s another milestone that shows esports is here to stay.”