eSports: a growing sponsorship opportunity?

Most people are familiar with traditional sport events. But what will happen to these events as preferences shift to digital forms of entertainment? The answer is already here. While still underground among the older demographics, eSports is a growing business, expected to generate over half a billion dollars in revenue this year.

So what is this phenomena? It is surprisingly similar to traditional sport events, except the athletes are replaced by gamers, the ball by a keyboard and mouse, and rather than sports, computer games are being played.
Dictionairy.com defined it as follows “competitive tournaments of video games, especially among professional gamers.”
Just like in traditional sport events, companies who want to connect with a demographic group often sponsor relevant events. The same is happening now in eSports.
‘There is a substantial advantage to being one of the first few global brands to support a largely nascent industry like eSports.’ Says Joost van dreunen, CEO of SuperData Research. According to a report by his company, the global eSports audience will eclipse 134 million viewers this year. That audience will generate over $612 million in direct and indirect revenue, including $111 million through corporate sponsorships.
Coca Cola is currently one of the leading sponsors, gaining massive audiences, both online and offline, at a fraction of what it would cost using traditional channels, says van Dreunen. Their sponsorship activation is truly brilliant. Due to the nature of eSports, these events aren’t held in i.e. big football stadiums. Coca Cola responded to this by organizing events where they stream matches to movie theaters, so fans can gather and watch eSports like a traditional sports event. This way they further increase the popularity of eSports and leverage their own sponsorship.
During the pilot events in 2014, theaters sold out around the world, and even in the United States, where matches started after midnight due to time differences. Fans would spend five hour or more watching the live event, says Matt wolf, Head of global gaming at Coca Cola.
According to another research by Newzoo, a market research agency, at the end of 2015, eSports will have an estimated audience of 113 million enthusiasts around the world, and an additional 147 million people watching. This combined with a steady growth rate, up to 31% last year for enthusiast viewers, eSports are sponsorship opportunities definitely worth keeping an eye on.
 

To learn more:
Report predicts 2015 eSports revenues will pass $250m
Coke is bringing eSports to the big screen. Here’s why
More on the same topic:
Sponsorship, a way of differing from traditional advertising
Sports sponsorship, the most efficient means of hitting a target audience?
Company’s core values: critical factor in the sponsorship decision making process?

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