written by: Chan Cheuk Lun, Eric

Some marketers may have underestimated the rapid development of E-sports; and the implications of an enormous community of gamers and fans. According to Business Insider, Twitch – the world’s largest E-sports streaming platform and community for gamers – once ranks 4th in peak Internet traffic in the US. Occupying the top three positions are Netflix, Apple and Google, implying that Twitch is ahead of various renowned websites including Facebook and Amazon [1]. A World Championship Final Game of League of Legends, could engenders up to 36 million viewers, which is two times of the SuperBowl Final in the USA [2].

Stadium for LoL Championship Finals; photo from: Source:https://www.lolnews.com/lol-esports/2016-world-championship-hits-north-america/

Large Corporations are Early Movers
With the diminishing young audience in traditional media, brand marketers have to find new ways to reach and connect to young people. Some gigantic corporations have spotted opportunites and act on it fast.

Corporate promotion through E-sports takes many shapes. Apart from video advertisements on the platform, there are sponsorships of professional gamers and leagues, establishment of gaming teams and host tournaments. For example, Samsung have sponsored a professional gaming team named Samsung Galaxy which won various championships. Intel have launched a tournament known as the Intel Extreme Masters, turning League of Legends, CS:GO and other games into battlefield for prize money of up to USD1Million [3]. Besides technology-related brands like Hyper X and Omen, consumer brands like Gillette and G Fuel are also sponsoring tournaments.

The Anatomy of E-sports Sponsorship
Consideration of corporate sponsorship does not solely depend on team performance, but also popularity of the teams among gaming fans. One example is team Ninjas in Pyjamas, a highly popular (over 1 Million a FaceBook fan base) yet struggling Swedish E-sports team in 2015. It receives a USD 6-digits sponsorship contract from gaming company Betway, all thanks to its huge and loyal fans base. McDonald in Sweden joins in by promoting an E-sports theme burger “McNiP” as thumbs up affirmation to the team, extending the promotions from online to offline.

LoL streaming by Faker, a famous professional gamer

Engagement of a community
E-sports fans and gamers may sometimes be marginalized due to the usual “unfair stereotype”. However, the bias actually cultivates an acute sense of community, resulting in stronger intention to bolster sponsoring brands [4]. The gaming community maybe skewed to male and youth players, and it may not be suitable for endorsements by brands targeting female or mature adults. The reflection of this insight is a highly targeted segment with unique characteristics. And you just know where to find them when you need to, let alone the size of this community is continuously growing.

According to Newzoo, the number of unique E-sports viewers surged from 134 million in 2012 to 226 million in 2016 and is estimated to attain 335 million in 2017, which is a 150% increase in 5 years [5]. It is beyond doubt that E-sports is a captive platform of/for the young generation. It is opening up countless media opportunities for brand advertising and promotions in the long run.

[1] 10 Facts About Twitch, The Company That Amazon Is Buying, That Will Blow Your Mind http://www.businessinsider.com/statistics-about-twitch-2014-8
[2] eSports Advertising http://on-advertising.com/esports-advertising/
[3] Intel Extreme Masters http://en.intelextrememasters.com/videos/
[4] The rise of eSports’ influence on brands http://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2016/09/16/the-rise-esports-influence-brands
[5] 5 reasons to advertise in eSports http://esports-marketing-blog.com/esports-advertising-marketing-figures-viewership-events-testimonials/#.WM_JUVV97IW