Texas Rangers in Major eSports Agreement

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The world of sports is changing. Once upon a time, a team like the Texas Rangers competed on one field: the Globe Life Field. In 2024, Bruce Brochy isn’t the only Rangers manager looking for success.

That’s because of the rise of eSports, which are virtual competitions held digitally. In terms of baseball, that usually means games played virtually on MLB’s The Show 24. While eSports have been around for many years, the pandemic in 2020 brought virtual sports to everyone’s attention. In baseball, that meant a eSports competition featuring a 30-player roster of MLB players at home, entertaining fans through their controllers.

Once the world woke back up, eSports had become a permanent fixture. The pandemic changed a lot in the world, and eSports was one of those beneficiaries, just like Zoom calls and working from home. 

How Does This Affect The Rangers?

That’s the history of eSports, but what of the recent announcement? The Rangers are named after the early law-enforcement agency, the pioneering Texas Rangers who sought to break new ground in the 1820s. Now, more than 200 years later, their namesakes are breaking new ground in the eSports market. 

They’ve teamed up with the fan engagement platform Rival to launch a new community named Rangerds Gaming. They’re not just going to be playing baseball either; they’ll be featuring on the first-person shooting phenomenon known as Call of Duty tournament via the Rival X platform. 

“There is an overlap between baseball fans and gamers,” Travis Dillon, Rangers Senior Vice President of Marketing. “A lot of the fans that I think will engage on this will be higher in the funnel, so it’ll be a lot of engaging with them in a space that is familiar and comfortable for them, and then with the Texas Rangers facilitating or providing that tournament or that opportunity to them that may then catch their attention in a way that our traditional advertising wouldn’t resonate with them.” 

This link-up isn’t just intended to appeal to existing Rangers’ fans but also to tap into a potential new market. It’s a way of extending a brand outside of their normal customer base; in this case, baseball, and the Rangers are certainly not the first to do so. 

Why eSports? 

Another big question is, why eSports? What tempts a baseball team into a space that they wouldn’t naturally be linked with, in this instance, Call of Duty? 

The eSports industry is growing fast. Pre-pandemic, before the world got a glimpse of the potential within the industry, it was valued at around $1.7 billion. In 2022, just two years later, the value had sprung to $3.2 billion and is projected to finish 2024 at $4.3 billion. Even more interesting is the projected figure – in four year’s time, the industry is expected to jump to a value of $5.7 billion. That’s a lot of money generated primarily by people engaging with videos, streams, and tournaments and placing bets on the outcome of games. 

In a country where sports betting is heavily regulated, it might be a surprise to know there’s a big market for betting within eSports. Indeed, these eSports betting tips suggest gamers need to watch, listen, and learn about their chosen platform, be it Call of Duty, The Show, or any one of the hundreds of other games. The betting market within eSports is one of the reasons for growth – the $4.3 billion figure the industry is expected to generate this year includes an estimated $2.5 billion in betting revenue.

The betting angle might not be the reason the Rangers have got involved, but it underlines the popularity of the sector and the sheer number of people who are engaging with streams and competitions. Tapping into that could be lucrative for the Rangers.

Has Anyone Else Followed Suit? 

Of course, plenty of other big sports teams have led the Rangers into the sector. Soccer teams such as FC Barcelona have had eSports teams for many years. In Texas, the Dallas Cowboys established the Dallas Cowboys Esports Club a couple of years ago, and owner Jerry Jones has also invested in eSports organization Complexity. 

In baseball, the owner of the New York Mets backed eSports before the pandemic, as did the Yankees, who announced an investment partnership with Vision Esports, a shareholder of three eSports-related companies, in 2017. The Rangers are not actually the first team to join the Rival platform – that honor went to the Guardians in 2023. 

The Rangers might be second to the party, but there’s still a feeling they’re at the forefront of something exciting. “We’re thrilled to introduce the Texas Rangers as our second MLB partner,” said Rival CEO Matt Virtue. “This partnership offers Rival the opportunity to showcase a number of product advancements we’ve made over the last year with one of the league’s most storied and innovative franchises. Rangers fans will find themselves at the center of this new customizable experience – offering a fresh and authentic connection to the games and the club they love.” 

The hope is that it could be the start of a popular platform for the Rangers, that results in growing their fanbase significantly.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is the author of three books about baseball, including Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media. He lives in Michigan where he writes, runs, and enjoys a good orange soda now and again.