Over the last year, we have seen eSports evolve into a multi-billion-pound market.
Yet, unsurprisingly, brand sponsorship in eSports is not the key component which is driving the growth in revenue. For brands not in touch with the gaming industry, the desire to watch competitive video gaming might sound alien. Yet, surprisingly, eSports viewers are growing and just like football and athletics, eSports have teams, star players, championships and not to forget, passionate audiences. eSports is a highly skilled, competitive sport not to be mistaken as a fad.
Is it simply the lack of knowledge in eSports which is encouraging brands to dispute potential investments in competitive gaming? I believe so – here are three leading misconceptions in eSports:
1. The intricacy of eSports
eSports is a diverse platform and to marketers who may not be familiar with the growing industry, investing in alternative sponsorship opportunities can appear daunting. However, brands could be missing enormous economic growth. eSports offers an opportunity for brands to capitalise on the favourite pastime for millions. Following the arrival of live streams, competitive gaming, events and championships such as LoL Esports and FIFA eWorld Cup, eSports has now entered the realm of entertainment and broadcasters. As the core gaming market evolves, it could make brand investment extremely lucrative, reaching audiences which were once unimaginable.
2. Retrospective eSports community
Brands who are not familiar with eSports will not be aware of the social interactions and friendships which it can develop. Audiences from across the globe correspond online and compete in worldwide events and championships. Games offer escapism for audiences, giving many a captivated experience in a virtual world. More than this, games are about shared experiences and all successful games have dedicated communities. Each community connects through a variety of social platforms, forums, blogs, meetings and events. Game communities are empowering, creating connections amongst players and with brands which are advertised.
3. Undermining the not-so-predictable, eSports audience
Looking at the current eSports demographic, there is a tremendous opportunity for brands to reach audiences on a wider scale. The eSports community is evolving, audiences now range across a varied demographic including men, women, millennials, parents and children. Like traditional sports, the eSports community have dedicated fan bases, following specific teams and players. Brands can align themselves with these teams and players to encourage brand awareness within a wider demographic.
Ultimately, if you are a brand interested in sports sponsorship opportunities, you shouldn’t let eSports go unmissed. The significant changes in technology have increased the desire for alternative, captivating entertainment. We need to think about the potential reach eSports can offer brands.
The stats in eSports are huge and there will continue to be more people tuning in online to eSports worldwide. The alternative audiences offer brands the opportunity to be creative with how they engage through developing alternative campaigns and there is huge opportunity to build new fan bases built on successful first impressions.
This isn’t just about brands investing in eSports, it's about choosing the right sponsorship package to take full advantage of the growing trend. Analyse the landscape, be creative with the assets available to buy and target the diverse audience which eSports offers. Brands need to take full advantage of the entertainment platform and its impressive stats to fully embrace eSports. As for eSports sponsorship, the opportunities it holds for brands are endless - all you need to do is take the leap.
Rob Gay is CEO at Venatus Media.
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