LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — Entertainment Software Association President Mike Gallagher predicted regret in cable networks’ future if they continue to ignore esports and the video game industry.
“Change is hard for incumbent industries,” he said at a breakfast Monday. “We [the video game industry] disrupt ourselves routinely. Our industry is much more comfortable. Our customer, our gamer, demands that. That’s our DNA as an industry and with our consumers, gamers, that’s what gives vibrancy to esports. It happens almost completely outside of all these incumbent mindsets.”
Behemoths like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News are too set in their ways to realize an opportunity when it happens, he explained. “When you have been doing something — broadcast over 100 years, cable for 40 years — and you’ve been doing it a certain way and you have economic metrics that are setup and everybody is getting compensated and you’re being judged as a public company by traditional metrics, the things that are happening on the outside can be like the meteor that hits you. You get disintermediated.”
It behooves cable networks to consider esports. Their viewer demographic is universally aging: Fox and MSNBC boast a median age of 65, CNN’s is 60. They’re also having trouble reaching and retaining younger audiences.
“Almost half of adults 22 to 45 years old are watching absolutely no content on traditional TV platforms, according to a new study by Omnicom Media Group agency Hearts & Science,” AdAge’s Jeanine Poggi reported in 2017.
Outside of a major TV-oriented company like ESPN, which Gallagher noted originally rejected esports before coming around, networks haven’t experimenting with covering esports.
“Where are people going for entertainment? The indicators are already there. Eventually, those same media centers of power, they’ll either make the right decision or they won’t and then there will be consequences,” Gallagher argued. “When it comes to how to connect to that same [gaming] audience, it’s probably not going to be a sound bite over a cable network they don’t subscribe to … [Cable networks] are probably going to have to come up with their own Twitch or similar type approach.”