Phil Kessel as a Pittsburgh Penguin in NHL 16. (via EA Sports/YouTube)
eSports continue to grow in popularity, and former NBA player Rick Fox said he believes they’ll overtake the NHL as part of the big four sports in two years’ time.
The NHL has long fought for its place alongside MLB, the NFL and NBA as one of the four biggest sports in North America, but former NBA player Rick Fox says the NHL’s time as part of the big four sports is just about up.
Fox, 46, told TMZ Sports that he believes within the next two years eSports will become one of the four major sports. Fox, who was born in Toronto, is the owner of eSports team Echo Fox, which competes in the North American League ofLegends Championship Series.
“It’s in that conversation now,” Fox said. “It’s just fifth right now. We’re in fifth place. It’s coming…In two years, it’ll be on par with the NHL.”
Fox is one of a number of professional athletes who have bought into eSports franchises, and former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and MLB star Alex Rodriguez recently bought in. Major companies such as Intel, Red Bull and Coca Cola have started getting involved in eSports, and ESPN has started broadcasting the tournaments live.
According to Red Bull, the highest earning eSports team last season pulled in nearly $9 million in 2015, and several others earned more than $1.5 million last year. The League of Legends World Championship final was seen by more than 36 million people.