Alex Taylor Talks Esports at Metro Atlanta Chamber
With nearly 300 million fans worldwide (and growing), esports is attracting viewers and venture funding at jaw-dropping rates. And with its investment in the Atlanta Reign, Cox is positioned perfectly at the forefront of this booming industry.
Cox Enterprises President and CEO Alex Taylor said he was initially skeptical about the idea of investing in a video game team — until he saw the Overwatch League in action at the 2018 Grand Finals at Barclay’s Center in New York. There were over 10 million people watching on broadcast cable and streaming services.
“I realized, this isn’t people sitting down watching other people play video games. This is a community,” said Alex, who spoke to a group of civic and business leaders last month at the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “Merchandise was flying off the shelves. The players, the fans are from all over the world.”
Alex was a key speaker at the chamber’s “Winning Georgia’s Sports Future,” held to promote public and private investment in sports within the region to attract more major sporting events. The audience of about 120 included Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and top leaders from the Hawks, Braves, Dream, Falcons and the Atlanta United Football Club organizations.
Alex said he was raised in Atlanta and grew up a sports fan. Some of his earliest memories were sitting in the stands at Braves games, standing outside the Falcon’s training center to get players’ autographs, and sitting courtside at an Atlanta Hawks basketball game.
By partnering with Province Inc. to form Atlanta Eports Ventures, which owns and operates the Atlanta Reign, Cox is joining the city’s passionate sports community.
A Hometown Home Run
By all indications, the esports wave is still cresting, particularly in Atlanta. In June, WalletHub ranked Atlanta as the No. 5 city in the world for gamers. The Atlanta Reign also tops every other team in the Overwatch League for merchandise sales.
“There is some big money in this that I never imagined — sponsorships, media rights, merchandise, the prize pool,” said Alex.
For example, the prize pool for the first Fortnite World Cup was $100 million — more than the prize pools for the Wimbledon tennis tournament, the Daytona 500 race and the Masters Golf Tournament combined.
“It just opens up your eyes to how big an ecosystem this is and how global and the kind of money and potential that is there,” said Alex. “All these numbers I just mentioned to you are all growing every year. Everything is growing really, really rapidly, which is just fascinating to me.”
Alex said he’d like to see a portfolio of esports franchises in Atlanta. Next up will be the new Call of Duty World League team, set to launch in 2020.
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