The Rise of Esports: Sponsorship, Investment, & Fandom
We’ve been talking about esports for a while and tracking it for years. We also work with some of the biggest players in the industry. Esports’ evolution and ascent dominates headlines, including the mass amounts of investment from brands, venture capitalists, and media companies as well as its enthusiastic, loyal, and young audience and fandom. Esports organizations are in a unique position unlike many other traditional sports — teams, leagues, and players are using their popularity and leverage to deliver value for sponsors and brands to audiences they might otherwise not be able to touch.
As you might have noticed with us folks at Blinkfire, we love digging into social sponsorship data (and also playing a game or two of Dota 2). With the rise of gaming platforms (like Twitch), the growth and utilization of esports organizations’ followers and coveted demographics, and the thoughtful, cutting-edge social and digital content, esports is setting up the industry to not only be mainstream, but also the premier destination for sponsors.
One of the most dominant platforms for esports consumption is Twitch, and its growth is astounding. According to data from Statista, since 2012, Twitch viewership in minutes has grown over 7x, as depicted below.
Esports organizations are in the driver’s (or gamer’s) seat when it comes to influencing key demographic groups — and they can do this without traditional broadcast dollars as demonstrated through Twitch’s growth (as well as other OTT and streaming services and social media).
According to NewZoo, a key driver of the more than $450 million dollars in esports sponsorship revenue projected for 2019 is the esports audience and viewership
As you can see from our sample, an overwhelming number of esports fans are between 13 and 35 — an age group that holds a great amount of current and future purchasing power. Younger consumers are far more likely to make purchasing decisions on brands based on outside influences — like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins gaming with one of the newest chairs or headsets would likely impact brand awareness. But, one of the biggest opportunities is for non-endemic esports brands like beverage giant Coca-Cola or athletic company Champion looking to make an impression on a younger, fashion-focused, and brand savvy audience.
So, how can esports teams take their social media and streaming audiences of today and use them to drive value for brand partners tomorrow? Here’s a few best practices we’re seeing across Blinkfire.
In-game “action” shots taken from a strategic angle to include shirt, headphone, and chair sponsors.
Headphone beauty shots. Esports gear most often a staple during practice or play is a gamer’s headset. Based on Blinkfire data, HyperX, Corsair, SteelSeries, and Turtle Beach sit atop the list of esports headphones.
With predicted revenues topping $1.1 billion in 2019 and approximately 82% of that revenue coming via brand investments, paired with sponsors like Nike beginning to uncover the value in esports, where does the sport go from here?