The Australian Football League (AFL), the premier league of Australian rules football, is keenly eying esports events and looking to make a big investment in the space.
This push means that Australian esports fans could find themselves attending events at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium.
The AFL’s Darren Birch told WAtoday, who broke the story: “Esports events sell out. There are amazing live events.”
“There are more screens, more activities going on, more lights, more LED displays. Some of the tournaments I have seen show that eSports is more concert-like than sport-like, but that’s what appeals to that younger audience.”
“All of these things make the experience bigger and bolder than your average sport.”
Many sports teams have started to colonise the esports space, and the AFL feel similarly, looking to encourage their teams to work with esports teams and hold and compete in tournaments.
“Whether [esports] translated into football is somewhat relevant but also not totally relevant,” Birch said. “We want AFL, through esports, to have the ability to generate broader appeal for clubs and be able to bring more sponsors, revenue and consumption of your brand—whether that’s a live footy event or a live esports event.”
It’s a fortutious time for the AFL to take an interest. The Intel Extreme Masters Sydney kicks off on May 6 in the Qudos Bank Arena. AFL aren’t officially involved, but they could probably crib some ideas.