Are video games the next mass-market viewing sport?

With the arrival of every new generation of consoles often comes completely new and sometimes unexpected modes of interaction with the act of gaming itself.
The arrival of the Xbox and PS2 in the early 2000s brought us online multiplayer console gaming. Five years later, the Nintendo Wii (and later the Kinect) ushered in the era of motion-sensing gameplay.
So what will this latest generation of gaming bring us?
The biggest change may not have anything to do with motion sensing or 3D graphics but instead the transformation of gaming from a solo or small-group phenomenon to a mass-market viewing event.
What do I mean by this? Well, basically, video games have long had a well-organized professional competition machinery built around them, and large-audience viewing of competitive gaming has become extremely popular on PC. But last generation’s consoles really weren’t built to enable broadcasting of gameplay to a large passive audience.
That’s changed. Both Microsoft and (as of today) Sony have announced integration of Twitch.TV, which says it has 35 million monthly viewers for online e-sports gaming events.
Still have your doubts about the appeal of watching others play video games online on your TV? Well, a decade ago many would have thought passive “sports” like poker would never be mass-market viewing events, but that’s clearly changed as things like the World Series of Poker (fueled by interest in internet gaming) have become massively popular.
Either way, even if online console game live streaming only appeals to a limited subsegment, by enabling console-based live streaming, gamers will be able to quickly socialize and learn from others. There is no doubt semi-celebrities will be born with each new game published.