Yahoo adds competitive video gaming to sports vertical

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Yahoo is adding a new and potentially lucrative component to its sports vertical: competitive video gaming.

The company on Wednesday announced the launch of Yahoo Esports, an online channel devoted to gaming, including expert commentary and interviews with top players. Esports will also feature articles, scores, team rosters, schedules, player rankings, calendars and statistics.

E-sports is attracting some big names to the field who are seeking to dominate early. ESPN announced its own e-sports vertical this year.

The number of active e-sports viewers worldwide in 2015 totalled 115 million, up nearly 28 per cent from the prior year, according to Newzoo, which tracks industry data. Males aged 21 to 35 make up 38 per cent of the active viewer audience.

Last year, global revenue in the industry jumped 67 per cent to $325 million. Newzoo projects that e-sports revenue will top $1 billion in three years. The 112 major e-sports events held in 2015 resulted in an estimated $20.6 million in ticket revenues, Newzoo said.

Yahoo Inc., based in Sunnyvale, California, recently hired three investment banking firms to evaluate potential bids for its Internet operations. The company has said it is looking at its strategic options and has been cutting costs.

Shares of Yahoo added 35 cents to $33.15 in morning trading.