May 2018

The Esports Phenomenon: What Marketers Should Know When Deciding Whether to Get in the Game

Why Brands Have Hesitated

We talk to a lot of brands about esports. In fact, these days more brands ask us about esports than any other of youth culture’s “platforms.” So why are more brands not already in the game? The short answer is that to esports’ newcomers, the landscape can appear a little messy and confusing. This white paper is dedicated to clarifying some of that perceived chaos and includes four considerations for brands as they decide whether esports is right for them.


Target Market: The Impact of Esports on Teen and Young Adults 

The first step is to understand esports’ impact on teen and young adult culture. According to a Washington Post/UMass Lowell study, almost three-quarters of Americans ages 14-to-21 either played or watched multiplayer online games or competitions in 2017. Esports, or competitive video gaming at a professional level, now has an estimated audience reach of more than 385 million people.


Infrastructure: The Rise of Esports Arenas

While more than 380 million esports fans are enjoying video gaming events without ever leaving their homes, esports arenas are on the rise. With more than 400 events worldwide and ticket revenue at $32 million (up 52% in 2016 year over year), dedicated esports arenas have started popping up all over the world. North America houses roughly 28% of them (i.e. eSports Arena in Santa Ana, Calif., Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles, Calif.) while Western and Eastern Europe currently hosts an additional 26% and 13% respectively This kind of infrastructure will prove important as brands and properties try to marry traditional sponsorship (what many brands already do well) with a new kind of venue featuring ever-evolving technology and tech-savvy consumers.


Trailblazers: How Some Big Names in Traditional Sports Have Already Paved the Way

What do FC Barcelona, the New York Yankees, and the Philadelphia 76ers have in common? Each is a highly successful franchise who has won championships and amassed fans around the world. And each has stepped into esports to reach fans today and into the future. FC Barcelona signed an agreement to compete in the first edition of the PES2018 League. The New York Yankees entered into a partnership with Vision Esports. The Philadelphia 76ers became the first North American professional sports team to own an esports team. A brand’s entry into esports feels a little less risky when it considers that the path forward has already been paved by some hugely successful organizations.


Grassroots: Esports Are Built on a Solid Foundation 

While high-profile events and teams may get most of the esports’ press, what’s happening at the grassroots level may be more important for its long-term success. A few examples of continuing grassroots development include:


Taking Action: If It’s Time to Get Into the Game 

If you decide to take action, keep in mind that according to the 2017 Global Esports Market Report, brands are spending about 30% on esports related advertising, 50% on sponsorship, and nearly 20% on media rights. Please contact us if we can answer any questions about opportunities in esports.