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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Major sports broadcasters are leaning into eSports to fill the programming gaps left from leagues canceling professional sports games because of coronavirus.

The state of play: ESPN on Sunday aired 12 hours of esports including Rocket League, NBA 2K, and Madden.

Be smart: Without live sports, the players themselves are looking to eSports to stay connected to fans.

  • Some athletes, like NBA star Kevin Durant, are using eSports tournaments to raise money for charity. A few tournaments will be used to fund coronavirus relief efforts.

By the numbers: eSports streamers like Twitch, Mixer, Caffeine, and Discord all posted their best revenue-generating month, according to data from Apptopia.

  • Other professional creators, like musicians, are also flocking to those platforms to increase exposure now that most live events have been canceled.

The big picture: At-home gaming through PCs and consoles is also exploding.

  • According to Verizon, gaming as a sector is up 75% in data usage, way ahead of standard web traffic (up 20%) and video traffic (up 12%).
  • Experts predict that the uptick from the virus will push gaming publishers to create more cross-platform gaming software.

Yes, but: Many eSports have been built around live-streaming large in-person events.

  • "I think everybody is struggling," says Jonathan Harrop, Senior Director of Global Marketing & Communications at AdColony, a mobile advertising company. "So many eSports are being pushed to live in-person events and obviously that has been completely shut down."

What's next: Harron has his doubts that eSports will catch on with the major television network audiences.

  • "There's this weird substitution paradigm at play: How do eSports do on broadcast TV versus Twitch? How many 55-year-olds are going to tune and say these aren't real people, what's happening?"

Go deeper: Social media takes center stage for athletes as sports stall

Go deeper

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: How data and the pandemic have democratized the "high-performance lifestyle — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: Pfizer begins study on 3rd vaccine dose as booster shot against new strains — Republicans are least likely to want the coronavirus vaccine
  3. U.S. news: California surpasses 50,000 deaths COVID-19 deaths, more than any other state — Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter return to church after receiving COVID-19 vaccines
  4. Local: Public transit ridership in Twin Cities dropped 53% amid pandemic — Data firm predicts "complete chaos" in next phases of Florida's vaccine rolloutAlaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy tests positive for the coronavirus

Acting Capitol Police chief: Phone logs show Jan. 6 National Guard approval was delayed

Pittman at a congressional tribute for fallen officer Brian Sicknick. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman testified on Thursday that cellphone records show former USCP chief Steven Sund requested National Guard support from the House sergeant-at-arms as early as 12:58pm on Jan. 6, but he did not receive approval until over an hour later.

Why it matters: Sund and former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving clashed at a Senate hearing on Tuesday over a dispute in the timeline for when Capitol Police requested the National Guard during the Capitol insurrection.

Manhattan prosecutors reportedly obtain millions of pages of Trump's tax records

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Manhattan district attorney is now in possession of millions of pages of former President Trump's tax and financial records, CNN first reported, following a Supreme Court ruling that allowed prosecutors to enforce a subpoena after a lengthy legal battle.

Why it matters: Trump fought for years to keep his tax returns out of the public eye and away from prosecutors in New York, who are examining his business in a criminal investigation that was first sparked by hush-money payments made by Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen during the 2016 election.