We live in the age of the nerd. Whether you admit it freely or bury it deep down like so many 80’s movie bullies, each and everyone of you is a nerd in your own right. Regardless of Dr. Seuss’s intent, the term “nerd” now refers to a person who cares about something and wants to learn more about it.
I wrote about fractionalization a few weeks ago. Thanks to the Internet, niche markets have exploded. Fellow LEGO enthusiasts find each other with ease. You realize you’re not the only one who likes that band. With a wealth of available information, online access facilitates nerdiness.
Anyone who denies nerd status essentially claims that they do not care about anything. This seems improbable, nihilistic, and borderline inhuman. The truth is that we all experience the same number of hours each day (barring some relativity theories with which I am unfamiliar). We all spend our time doing/reading/watching something.
In fact, even subjects once thought the antithesis of nerdiness can be viewed through this lens. I consider working on cars, carpentry, and even watching sports, to be nerdy pursuits. Watching sports is actually one of the nerdier ventures within the recreationisphere.
Despite common perceptions, sports are incredibly complex. Professional football coaches spend a full work week developing strategy, on top of prepping personnel and managing the team. Front office executives rely on advanced metrics to measure player efficiencies. Have you ever looked at the contract structures for NBA players? To really care about a sport, to understand its mechanics, you must be a nerd.
The window dressing is what makes every sport entertaining and accessible to the casual fan. The NFL, without the out-of-season drama and blunders, does not offer much engagement. The average viewer enjoys professional football for the pageantry, the colors, and the personalities. Without the frills, the sport becomes swampy. The strategies are complicated, the rules convoluted. To enjoy these facets of the sport, you would have to be a nerd.
It should come as no surprise to learn that the model for watching sports applies to online gaming as well. Team games like League of Legends and Smite challenge players to battle one another using coordinated tactics. Skill levels vary from player to player. These platforms have world championships with big payouts for the winners. And fans pay attention. Via Twitch TV, nerds can view the live streams of their favorite players, watching them clash in real time.
The market for online gaming fans is massive. Last year, 28 million people tuned in to the League of Legends World Championship. Imagine if there were a way to put ads online. You could reach a targeted market of 28 million.
If you watch sports but think that sounds silly, you’re being hypocritical. Why not just play the video game instead of watching someone else? The same is true of football and basketball. It’s fun to throw the ball around the driveway for twenty minutes, but while that’s happening, aren’t you just emulating the real thing?
Ultimately, we love watching someone who’s really good at what they do. Twitch TV gives people that opportunity. For free, by the way. NFL Sunday Ticket costs $41.99 a month. Who’s really being silly?