Tencent bets billions on gamers with more fans than NBA stars


Tencent reaches most people outside China through games like PUBG Mobile – among the most popular mobile eSports titles in South-East Asia – and League Of Legends, which is regularly played by tens of millions worldwide. — Reuters

At the height of the global pandemic in October, more than 6,000 people packed into a new 25-acre stadium in Shanghai to watch one of the world’s biggest sporting contests. Another 45 million tuned in online, about as many as watched the six games of the 2020 NBA Finals on TV. The matchup was the League Of Legends world championship – a watershed moment for competitive gaming and its organiser Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Asia’s most valuable company has set its sights on a billion-dollar eSports arena that already boasts more regular viewers than the National Basketball Association or the National Football League. Tencent has placed pro gaming at the heart of its ambition to dominate online entertainment, from mobile games and video streaming to social media. It’s betting that esports will entice and retain the Internet audiences it needs and eventually grow to something approaching the US$10bil (RM41.35bil)-plus NBA.

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