Due to requests and our understanding of the current issues affecting many globally we have extended the submission date to May 1st 2022.

Call for papers Special Issue on “Disruption by Esports: The digital transformation of media businesses”

Esports, competitive video gaming, continues to rise in both popularity and pervasive influence globally, redefining elements of how we understand modern media and business. During the pandemic, games and esports have not only acted as source of connection and entertainment for many people but also as an exemplar for other media businesses in how to engage a digitally savvy audience. While live attendance of events was curtailed, esports continued to deliver the core offering of competitive gaming both at professional and at grassroots level to an audience exceeding 500 million. The disruptive influence of esports was accelerated during global lockdowns as traditional sports integrated elements of esports into their offerings in the absence of live events. The engaged esports consumer that exists within an innovative media ecosystem is disrupting traditional media management and marketing practices through changing how we think about the global media landscape in terms of how it is consumed, shared, created, and monetized. For this special issue we welcome a range of submissions that can enhance understanding on how gaming and esports is transforming the conceptualization of digital business. Please feel free to contact the special issue editors if you have any questions about submitting to this special issue.

Submit here in  Journal of Media Business Studies – Deadline February 14th 2022

Special Issue Editors:

Brian McCauley, MMTC, Jönköping International Business School (brian.mccauley@ju.se) https://twitter.com/DrBrianMcCauley

Tobias Scholz, University of Siegen (tobias.scholz@uni-siegen.de) https://twitter.com/t0bs3n

Maria Törhönen, Gamification Group, Tampere University (maria.torhonen@tuni.fi) https://twitter.com/TorhonenMaria  

Full Call 

The rise of esports represents a rapidly emerging media market that is changing how we think about the global media landscape in terms of how it is consumed, shared, created, and monetized. Spectating and participation within the esports community is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon where motivations to consume go beyond that of traditional sports (Hamari & Sjöblom, 2017). Despite a rapidly developing global market potentially exceeding 25 billion dollars US in value (Ahn, Collis & Jenny, 2020), as researchers we are still in the early stages of understanding the business aspects of this media context (Scholz, 2019) as well as the consumers (Törhönen et al., 2020) and the different producers (Törhönen et al., 2019) involved in this type of media content. Esports is defined as competitive video gaming (Taylor, 2012), and since 2015, it has expanded rapidly as a professionalized context that includes a vast array of interested stakeholders (Scholz, 2019). To date research within the business context has focused on players and consumers while media research has tended towards questions of the relationships between esports, sports, and media; definitions and delimitation of the context; the methodologies for study; and the practice of live streaming gameplay (Reitman et al., 2020).

Esports represents an unusual media phenomenon in that it began as digital and global but is moving towards a more regional analogue model (Scholz, 2019). As such, there exists a need for theory development within the regional or local context such as market-shaping, ecosystem structure, legitimization, institutional development, stakeholder analyses, forms of emergent business models, media use or events such as streaming or LAN parties (McCauley, Tierney & Tokbaeva, 2020). Further the influence of this global context can be seen to be shaped by existing cultures in terms of leisure, consumption and technological infrastructures (McCauley, Nguyen, McDonald, & Wearing, 2020). The online nature of the esports consumer provides new implications for our understanding of media through the content and wealth of data provided (Ji & Hanna, 2020), and with the current global pandemic accelerating the adoption of esports globally (Cranmer et al., 2021). Understanding the hybrid online and offline nature of the context represents a gap in our knowledge that represents an opportunity for media business scholars. In particular issues of revenue, governance and sustainability are ongoing issues of concern for the industry that provide opportunities for scholars to provide tangible and impactful solutions.

Digital disruption is increasingly relevant for media scholars as digitalization forces changes that provide challenges for organizations (Maijanen, von Rimscha & Głowacki, 2019). Esports companies exist as media companies that go beyond the concept of ambidexterity and can be identified as pioneers of ultradexterity in the media context through “entrepreneurial innovativeness” (Scholz & Stein, 2017). Further the esports audience is “over-energetic, over-enthusiastic, and over-dynamic” (Scholz, 2019), which creates disruption through prosumption behaviors (Andrews & Ritzer, 2018), user entrepreneurship (Koch, Pongratz, McCauley, & Achtenhagen, 2020) and the platform economy and content creation driving emergent business models (Cranmer et al., 2021).

The rapid development of the esports media market represents an example of the digital transformation of media industries providing what Oliver (2018) identifies as “an extraordinary opportunity to develop new intellectual insight by bridging previously discrete fields of knowledge” (p. 295). As such this special issue reflects the most recent developments within the academic field of media management and the business of esports through and we welcome a variety of approaches to answering the following potential questions. We encourage authors to think outside these suggestions and welcome a variety of empirical and conceptual approaches in understanding this ever-increasing disruption to the business of media.

Examples of Potential Research Questions

  • How do existing esports companies achieve flexibility and sustainability?
  • What are the ways of approaching ambidexterity or ultradexterity through the lens of esports?
  • How can we understand revenue models of esports and the implications for media management?
  • What is media management in the context of esports?
  • What are potential aspects other types of media companies could learn from esports companies in terms of digitalization?
  • How do esports companies deal with the volatility of the esports ecosystem?
  • How does the complexity of legitimacy and governance in esports impact sustainability and media business models?
  • How can we understand the future media audience through esports audiences?
  • How can we understand digital entrepreneurship and management in the platform economy
    driven by gaming and esports?
  • How can esports extend and augment our understanding of current theory within business and media management?
  • How can esports challenge how we conceptualize the modern media entrepreneur?
  • How does the hybrid nature of esports extend our understanding of the increasingly digitised media ecosystem?
  • What are the unique cultural characteristics of esports that influence the business of media though local, national or regional lens?

Submission and review process

To submit a manuscript, please visit the JOMBS website. For more details on the guidelines please visit the journal’s Instructions for Authors page. The submission deadline is February 14th, 2022. If you have any questions, please contact the editors of the special issue. We envisage publishing the Special Issue in early 2023. We look forward to receiving your manuscript!


Ahn, J., Collis, W., & Jenny, S. (2020). The one billion dollar myth: Methods for sizing the massively undervalued esports revenue landscape. International Journal of Esports, 1(1).

Andrews, D. L., & Ritzer, G. (2018). Sport and prosumption. Journal of Consumer Culture, 18(2), 356-373.

Cranmer, E. E., Han, D.-I. D., van Gisbergen, M., & Jungt, T. (2021). esports Matrix: Structuring the esports Research Agenda. Computers in Human Behavior, 106671.

Hamari, J., & Sjöblom, M. (2017). What is eSports and why do people watch it? Internet research, 27(2), 211-232.

Ji, Z., & Hanna, R. C. (2020). Gamers First–How Consumer Preferences Impact eSports Media Offerings. International Journal on Media Management, 1-17. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/14241277.2020.1731514

Koch, N., Pongratz, S., McCauley, B., & Achtenhagen, L. (2020). ‘Smashing it’: How user entrepreneurs drive innovation in esports communities. International Journal of Esports, 1(1).

Maijanen, P., von Rimscha, B., & Głowacki, M. (2019). Beyond the surface of media disruption: digital technology boosting new business logics, professional practices and entrepreneurial identities. Journal of Media Business Studies, 16(3), 163-165.

McCauley, B., Nguyen, H. T., McDonald, M., & Wearing, S. (2020) Digital Gaming as Leisure in Vietnam: An Exploratory Study. Leisure Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/02614367.2020.1731842.

McCauley, B., Tierney, K., & Tokbaeva, D. (2020). Building a regional offline eSports Market: Understanding how Jönköping the ‘City of DreamHack’ takes URL to IRL. International Journal of Media Management. https://doi.org/10.1080/14241277.2020.1731513.

NewZoo. (2019, February 12). eSports audience size worldwide from 2012 to 2022, by type of viewers (in millions). [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/490480/global-esports-audience-size-viewer-type/ Oliver, J. J. (2018). Strategic transformations in the media. Journal of Media Business Studies, 15(4), 278-299.

Reitman, J. G., Anderson-Coto, M. J., Wu, M., Lee, J. S., & Steinkuehler, C. (2020). Esports Research: A Literature Review. Games and Culture, 15(1), 32-50.

Scholz, T. M., & Stein, V. (2017). Going beyond ambidexterity in the media industry: eSports as pioneer of ultradexterity. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations (IJGCMS), 9(2), 47-62.

Scholz, T. M. (2019). eSports is business. Management in the world of competitive gaming Palgrave Pivot, Cham.

Sjöblom, M., Törhönen, M., Macey, J. & Hamari, J. (2018). The ingredients of streaming: audiovisual Audiovisual affordances used by streamers on Twitch. Computers in Human Behavior, 92, 20-28.

Törhönen, M., Sjöblom, M., Vahlo, J., Hamari, J. (2020) View, Play and Pay? – The Relationship between Consumption of Gaming Video Content and Video Game Playing and Buying, Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), Hawaii, USA, January 7-10, 2020