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Featuring an array of America’s leading esports organisations, the first Esports Activate showcase got off to a flying start this morning in New York. Becoming a launching pad for the organisations to present their digital, media, experiential, and sponsorship inventory to marketers and buyers the event comprised diverse panels featuring high-level media executives who explicated their work with esports and threw light on why they feel it is so important to foster partnerships.

Esports is nearly a billion-dollar business that has grown at an exceedingly great speed, particularly over the past five years. Male millennials and Gen-Zers are the core audience for the genre that has grown by leap and bounds, but not all. In fact, 1 in 3 esports fans is female, and it’s increasingly becoming a social experience one can share with friends and family.

Guy Costantini, Skydance Media VP of global interactive marketing said: “Esports now has two different audiences. There are the people who have ample time to play games for hours on hours per week, and then there’s an audience who want to watch people play at the highest level, but don’t have the time to dedicate multiple hours to a game.”

Esports interaction is happening at a wide array of venues, not just in front of a screen. “Yes, esports combines digital and entertainment, but this is an audience that values social interactions at gaming conferences and live events,” said Craig Levine, the Chief Strategy Officer for ESL, the world’s largest esports company. “Live events are a big piece of esports’ success, and an important way for brands to successfully integrate.”

When it comes to esports, social interaction and conversation are significant. This is a digital sport for a digital generation, said Hi-Rez, COO Todd Harris, and it attracts an audience that is engaged, sophisticated and discerning when it comes to brand integration.

“The esports audience has a nose for BS. They don’t like ‘logo slaps’ but they do like value exchange with a brand,” said Harris. “When there is good content within the game or on YouTube, then they will support that brand tremendously.”

Shi Deng, the Co-Founder of the Big Blue Esports team, Boston’s esports management and events company, echoed Harris’s sentiment.

“Slapping your logo on a broadcast is a weak way to engage with your audience,” said Deng. “It’s almost like selling out your community, and we want brands to contribute to the community.”

Some of the most successful and high-profile brands in the esports space include lifestyle brands like Red Bull as well as Coca-Cola, T-Mobile and Toyota.

The line between esports and traditional pro sports leagues appears to be blurring, so much so that 17 NBA teams will be part of the upcoming NBA 2K league, a competition it created in partnership with Take-Two Interactive, the developer of the popular NBA 2K series. The league’s first season begins in May, and NBA teams will begin drafting their esports players in the coming weeks.

Once each franchise selects the five people who are going to represent it, they will be official members of their respective organiSations in April. The players will get a proper contract and sponsorship deals, just as NBA players do.

“What’s happening in the traditional sports world only helps us, and the fact that NBA and NFL teams are getting into the space is having a positive impact on business,” said OpTic Gaming president Ryan Musselman.

Because esports is still relatively new, it has a unique opportunity to leapfrog how other industries use data, particularly the traditional pro sports leagues, said Jon Gosier, a venture capitalist who recently founded AudiGent, an audience intelligence platform which provides artists and other influencers with new ways of monetising data.

Early on in the esports era, data was not even being considered by many brands. According to Octagon vp of insights and strategy Noah Kolodny, a good deal of his agency’s clients was interested in getting involved because esports was new, different, and there was a lot of buzzes involved.

“But then we saw Twitch.tv spending $45 million, and as more non-endemic partners came into the space, it became harder for our clients to go to their Chief Marketing Officers and say, ‘Esports will sell products,’ without having any data to prove it,” said Kolodny.

TV is also transforming esports and pro gaming in general. As pro gaming continues to grow, so has interest in televising esports among the broadcast and cable networks. TBS has aired 21 esports telecasts since the summer of 2017, which is more than Disney XD (13), and ESPN2 (five). ESPN and NFL Network have also aired esports.

Source: adweek.com


Source: European Gaming Media and Events