Thousands of young people watching live and for hours other young people hacking their keyboards moving crazy patterns on a big screen, and millions watch it online on their private screens: That’s esports!
Those outside this universe never will understand what is going on. Esports is a phenomenon with growing success. At this year’s EsportsBAR in Cannes, Ryan Wyatt, head of Global Gaming and Virtual Reality at Google, told that in 2018 a total 61 billion hours of game content was watched on YouTube, about 10 percent of it was live streamed esport competitions. It’s still a small but growing part of the overall games industry, that is likely to become one of or THE leading global industry. In only 11 years, annual global revenue rose over 100 billion USD.
And the figures also for esports are growing significantly: Jens Hilgers from the esport investor Bitcraft explained that today the big esport game brands like League of Legends and others attract between 60 and 80 million players per month. He predicts that these figures soon will double: “There is no reason why this should not happen”, he said.
While esports in media for long was an online phenomenon, today, more and more traditional TV operators realize the opportunity and launch dedicated esports channels. This again was documented at this year’s EsportsBAR with Disney owned sports network ESPN being among the winners of the Game Shaker Awards.
There is one investor in the esports universe that predicts much more growth in this sector: “With Artificial Intelligence (AI) eating up more and more jobs you need to keep people busy to avoid riots!” – he predicts. “Panem et Circensis”, that is truly not a new idea.
Esports for sure is a fascinating universe and I’m sure will continue to have a bright future. However, the debate on esports has just begun. Regulators around the globe start taking a close look to all implication connected to this matter. They will have to learn that a global phenomenon can’t be solved with local approach. But on the other hand: This is not a new experience!
What has this to do with marketing? A lot, because a coin has always two sides. The tremendous growth of Esport includes huge opportunity for brands as Legardére Sports’ Senior Director Esports, Moritz Altmann, illustrated at the Cannes conference: “Most our revenue in Esports is created by brands, in fact 82 percent. What does that mean? Well, focus more and brands and look how to get them more involved.”
Also, Stefan Zant, managing director of ProSiebenSat.1 Sports that just launched a dedicated esports channel in Germany, describes similar experience: Esports is the thing to do now. Therefore, brands a queuing at our door step. Well, I’m sure this will change to normal again, when esports is becoming a more normal media investment.”
This may take a while since the wave is still growing. And the result for brands in some examples is stunning as Altmann observed, revering to a campaign targeting at the esports community by logistics brand DHL. They created a video spot featuring a small and cute little robot delivering parcels in the virtual world of a popular esports game where it survives all attack by the villain monsters of this game universe. “Gamers while playing or following the action opened another window of their browser to check out the DHL website in the middle of action. I never experienced something similar in any other media environment”, Altmann reported!
And again: brands and game developers or operators or gaming leagues have only just begun to look into the potential of cooperation!