The English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has appointed Strive Sponsorship, the sport and entertainment marketing consultancy, to evaluate the potential of video gaming and esports as a platform to engage young people.

The continued growth and penetration of gaming and esports, especially in emerging markets, is driving forward-thinking and innovative sport organisations like ECB to think strategically about how to harness the power of this passion to grow their own reach and stay relevant to young audiences.

Newzoo, a leader in games and esports analytics, forecasts the global esports audience to reach 454 million in 2019, growing to 645 million by the end of 2022.

Despite the sizeable viewership figures, esports constitutes a small niche within gaming. Active gamers in China alone number 619.5 million with figures on the rise. This is driven by the growth in mobile gaming, a sector that was responsible for 49% ($63.2bn), of the games industry’s annual revenue in 2018. It’s these impressive numbers and the associated first-party data opportunity that is driving many governing bodies to explore gaming and esports.

David Mahoney, Chief Operating Officer at ECB, said:

“We constantly monitor social trends, and keep abreast of innovation in other sports and industries, to see what can be learned. We’re keen to better understand the space and need a blend of gaming and esports knowledge, combined with strong sports rightsholder experience, to help us achieve this.

Strive’s strong reputation and experience in what is a new and very complex space, gives us great confidence that we are getting the best impartial advice available.”

Commenting on working with ECB, Malph Minns, Managing Director of Strive Sponsorship, said:

“Gaming and esports undoubtedly have the potential to offer a variety of opportunities to traditional sports rightsholders, broadcasters, brands and investors. However these need to be carefully navigated in order to deliver returns. We’re really excited to work with ECB to explore the potential positive impacts of both on cricket.”