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L.A. Times Owner Sees Esports as Evolution of Modern News Media

The Los Angeles Times’ new owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, is investing in “H1Z1” developer Daybreak Game Company — and esports in general — because he sees video games as an evolution of modern news media, according to a recent interview in The Washington Post.

Soon-Shiong’s holding company, NantWorks, announced its investment in Daybreak earlier this month. As part of the new venture, NantWorks will publish mobile version of “EverQuest” and “H1Z1” under the name NantG Mobile. The L.A. Times will also add esports coverage to the Sports section of its paper and build new esports arenas inside the new L.A. Times Center.

Soon-Shiong will join Daybreak as a member of its board of directors. He told The Washington Post the investment is part of an ambitious strategy to engage young people and sports fans on the platforms where they already spend their time.

“The most evolved engagement engine is video gaming, ‘Fortnite’ … the Millennials, across Twitch, interconnect and communicate,” he said. “We could take an engine like this and find a way to enhance a different form of social network, and games add an element of storytelling.”

The investment is also reportedly part of the L.A. Times’ effort to become a go-to destination for sports coverage — and that includes professional gaming. “I consider esports a sport, like chess or like golf, it’s a mental sport with muscle twitch. It’s a sport,” he told The Washington Post.

The global esports industry is expected to grow 38% this year to $905.6 million, according to market intelligence company Newzoo. The majority of that money will come directly from sponsorships and advertising, and indirectly from media rights and content licenses.

“The growth of virtual sports has been explosive,” L.A. Times executive editor Norman Pearlstine said in a press release. “We look forward to covering all the major games companies, including Daybreak.”

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