How eSports are Shaking up Sponsorships for Brands and Mainstream Sport Rights Holders 18th July, 2018

It’s time to cast aside any predispositions you may have about competitive gaming or the people involved in them: eSports are now very much a force to be reckoned with and are not going away any time soon.

The scale of eSports’ audience growth in recent years is simply quite staggering to get your head around. Right now, a brand could potentially be put in front of up to 320 million consumer eyeballs, should they take up the option of sponsorship within eSports.

Current estimations value this market at a whopping £1bn, with audiences set to double to over 600 million by 2020. Proof, if ever it were needed, that the elite professional gaming industry is beginning to take over the world at an ever-increasing rate!

How is this happening so rapidly?

As you perhaps can imagine, eSports tap into a more youthful demographic. It is these Millennials who are now coming of age and becoming ever more influential in this space; it’s estimated eSports’ core audience of approximately 145 million people is largely made of this demographic.

A prime example of this would be the League of Legends’ University eSports Masters, a hugely popular competition which pits teams representing universities and national leagues against their European rivals to compete for an overall title.

This technologically savvy demographic is increasingly relying on online entertainment, in turn helping to fuel eSports’ wild growth. As a result, eSports offer considerable instant value to brands looking for sponsorship opportunities, given its product is essentially available on tap 24/7 across the globe.

Case Study: Twitch in eSports vs live sport

Back in 2016, live video platform Twitch became the official streaming partner of eSports gaming events for immensely popular multiplayer games League of Legends, Call of Duty and Counter Strike. This agreement ensured Twitch are able to stream coverage of these tournaments to 100 million people instantaneously, completely free of charge.

To put this into perspective, more people in the United States watched watched the League of Legends Championship final than the NBA Finals, golf’s Masters Tournament or the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s fair to say eSports have made their mark – and are only going to get bigger.

What this means for mainstream rights holders – and what they can do about it

eSports are already selling out stadiums, commanding giant audiences online around the clock and attracting major brand sponsorships from the likes of Orange, Apple and Samsung. This means traditional mainstream sports rights holders are now faced with the challenge of deciding how to compete with eSports for global brands’ sponsorship budgets – or whether they should even take them on at all.

Indeed, some of these rights holders have already embraced this new industry by not viewing eSports as a competitor, but rather as another vehicle to grow their own brand. Paris Saint-Germain – one of Europe’s elite football clubs – decided in 2016 to create their own dedicated eSports team for League of Legends, for example. Although this team only ran for a year, it’s important to note this particular game is in no way linked to football; it simply helped the club to spread awareness and tap into an entirely new fanbase.

Key takeaway

Quite what are the correct strategies for mainstream sport rights holders to take on or co-opt this new market presence is yet to be seen. However, one thing is for certain: eSports are fast disrupting the landscape beyond recognition and they are here to stay.

They will not spell the end of mainstream sports sponsorship, but sensible commercial teams in this sphere will need to seriously review their proposition and strategy within the market – or risk being left behind altogether.

Sponsorship DIY 16th December, 2016

‘You need money to make money’ is a common term people refer to when encountering financial obstacles and rights holders constantly face challenges when it comes to taking their projects to the next level.

Most entrepreneurial projects start off as a one-man band or in some cases they might have a small team in place, but nevertheless the amount of effort to get projects of any size off the ground is not for the faint hearted, requiring a substantial amount of time and expertise. Rights holders are now realising the importance of sponsorship not only from a financial standpoint but they are beginning to realise that brand integration can make significant improvements to their holistic business model – ultimately saving them time and money.

Yet, with sponsorship so important to rights holders – sponsorship professionals now understand their worth and as such, large fees are associated with such specialist agencies. Therefore, obtaining the money to hire their services can often be very hard to come by, making the journey from zero to hero a daunting prospect.

However, the solution is simple; identifying alternative services that allow you to function like a specialist agency might be the worthiest investment any entrepreneur can make. Enhancing your knowledge from a fundamental level in the field you operate can ultimately acts as the foundation to your success.

At Slingshot, we don’t just work with global properties but all businesses with the ambition of propelling every client we work with to the next level. For those unable to justify larger investments into agency support, we conduct commercial training sessions that have been designed to give people an insight into the step-by-step process we go through with our global clients, providing you with all the knowledge and skills to go out and secure long-term sponsorship for your own organisation.

Performing like a trained sponsorship expert will result in you developing the right propositions, having the right conversations with the right brands resulting in you building long-lasting relationships with sponsors whilst driving year on year revenue. Don’t just hire specialists, become one.

If you’d like to hear more about the commercial training sessions we run at our headquarters in London, please contact Liam Ward at [email protected]

To book onto the course, simply follow the link provided.

Treat Them Mean, Keep Them Keen – Not In Sponsorship 6th May, 2016

Now more than ever the sponsorship market is packed full of opportunities for brands, making the task of securing brand sponsors an ever harder job for rights holders. The need now for rights holders is to not only understand the value of their propositions, but also find a way to differentiate from the competition to bring in that much craved sponsorship revenue.

To do this, many rights holders are now investing heavily to upskill their sales teams. In doing this, rights holders are realising that there is a great deal of prior effort and expertise needed to secure sponsors, and therefore retaining sponsors is perhaps now even more important than it once was.

As sponsors become ever more precious to a rights holder you would assume that it would be fundamental for a rights holder to make sure they go above and beyond on delivery, however, all too often there still seems to be a disconnect, as many brands are miss-sold on promises that are never delivered.

This disconnect will of course hurt a brand when it comes to successfully activating their sponsorship, but for rights holders, besides the obvious initial financial void and short term pressures that come with that, this could have a far more adverse effect in the long run:

Bad Reputation – people talk. It doesn’t matter whether the brand has paid £5k or £5m, it’s a small world and word travels fast, especially in this digital era with a bad reference only a click away. Much like how happy sponsors are generally very willing to shout about you in a positive light, the same goes for a disgruntled sponsor who will have no remorse when shouting about you in a derogative fashion. Having a bad reputation as a rights holder when it comes to delivering sponsorship will undoubtedly plant seeds of doubt into any brand when they receive a proposal about investing in your platform.

Weakened Platform – in many cases sponsors provide a lot more than just cash, they can add significant value to a property though a variety of means such as increased promotion, engagement and consumer experience. Having successful case studies and previous positive relationships are great tools when selling to prospective brands, so not having these case studies will make a sale all the more difficult. In some cases, the sale of sponsorship could also depend heavily on who is already associated with the platform (especially in B2B sponsorship), so losing one sponsor could potentially result in losing a number of prospective ones too.

Regret – rights holders with multiple sponsors generally have a harder job to ensure a flawless delivery, and will often find it becomes a fine balancing act to decide which brand should be given the most attention at any given time. In these circumstances, it is often most likely to result in the lower tiered sponsor being neglected, and therefore walking away from future involvement (although there are cases of this occurring with high profile sponsors also). Either way, it is criminal for a rights holder to fail to deliver on their promises no matter who the brand is or what they have invested, especially in today’s climate when it is possible for brands to become world famous overnight. Imagine if that lower tiered sponsor turned out to be the next Uber or Spotify.

Selling sponsorship is never easy, in fact it is probably one of the most underrated skills in business full stop. Due to the nature of sponsorship and the regular changes in strategies for both rights holders and brands, it is natural that some sponsorships will have a short shelf life and often nothing can be done to stop the relationship coming to an end, but to lose a sponsor due to a poor relationship or miss selling is something that needs to be avoided at all costs!

To learn more about the ins and outs of selling and maintaining sponsorship effectively – attend our Sessions event on Thursday May 26th or call our London office on 0207 226 5052 for more information.