eSports: It’s here and it isn’t going away 11th August, 2017

A force to be reckoned with

320 million eyes. That is the amount of exposure a brand could potentially gain through the sponsorship of eSports right now, with predictions of a £1bn market and audiences doubling to over 600m by 2020. The elite professional gaming industry is taking over the world at an ever-increasing rate.

With the millennial generation becoming ever more influential, eSports currently taps into this demographic like no other, with an estimated core audience of 145 million. This means that eSports can offer brands considerable value immediately, due to the technology developed world that we now live in.

In 2016, Twitch became the official streaming partner of the eSports live gaming events for League of Legends, Call of Duty and Counter Strike. Twitch are able to stream to 100 million people at the same time and all for free, meaning that economic cycles will not affect the exposure brands gains as much as mainstream sport. To put this in perspective more people in the US watched the League of Legends Championship final than the NBA Finals, the Masters and the Stanley Cup individually. eSports has arrived.

What does this mean for mainstream sporting rights holders?

With eSports already selling out stadiums and attracting major brands such as; Orange, Apple and Samsung, mainstream sports rights holders are now faced with the challenge of how and if they should compete with eSports for global brands’ sponsorship budgets.

What can the mainstream sports rights holder do?

Some mainstream sports rights holders have already embraced the industry by not viewing eSports as a competitor but another vehicle to grow their own brand, with football clubs such as PSG deciding to create their own eSports team for League of Legends, which is a game not linked to football whatsoever, in order they can tap into an entirely new fanbase.

Whether this strategy will work is yet to be seen, but one thing the eSports industry is doing is disrupting the landscape. With eSports becoming a force to be reckoned with, it will not spell the end of mainstream sports sponsorship but will mean these commercial teams will need to seriously review their proposition and strategy within the market.