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Tencent targets billion-dollar esports arena in China

Tencent is looking to expand its presence with a billion-dollar esports arena in China, which has more viewers than the NBA or NFL.

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Tencent, the world’s largest video games company by revenue, is the creator of major esports titles including Ring of Elysium and League of Legends.

In October, more than 6,000 people watched the League of Legends world championship at an esports arena in Shanghai (via Bloomberg).

Another 45 million watched the championship online, with the total number of viewers equivalent to those watching the six games of the 2020 NBA Finals on TV.

Tencent is now targeting the billion-dollar esports arena, which already has more regular viewers than the National Basketball Association (NBA) or the National Football League (NFL).

Tencent investing in esports

“Esports is like the Super Bowl, which isn’t just a sport event but also a vehicle of art and entertainment,” Leo Lin, CEO of TJ Sports. “We are going for the direction of connecting esports with our games and wider entertainment business.”

TJ Sports was established by Tencent in 2019 to organise and encourage competitive gaming across China.

“Tencent is investing in esports for the long haul, because it breaks the boundaries between different businesses from licensing to sponsorships and ticket sales,” said Chundi Zhang, gaming analyst with Ampere Analysis.

esports to rival the NBA

“Especially with competition for attention intensifying and user acquisition costs growing in the gaming market itself, esports still has huge untapped potential.”

Tencent has put esports at the forefront of its plans to dominate online entertainment, including mobile gaming, video streaming and social media. Tencent predicts that esports will expand to rival the the $10bn+ NBA.

“As a gamer myself, I’m always inspired when I see someone grow from a nobody to a big star,” said Lin. “I believe many fans love esports as a sport for that same reason.”

Earlier this year, SuperGen Group broke ground on a $1.5bn esports complex in Shanghai, and esports arenas are set to rise in Chicago and Tampa.

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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