If the concept of watching other people play video games retains zero appeal, this sponsorship isn’t meant for you. If you have never heard of gamers that go by the handles JWong and FChamp, it is not for you. However, if these things do get your attention, then odds are, advertisers are having difficulty reachingnbsp;you.
That is because fans of e-sports are just the sort of young individuals that are flocking away from traditional media — and advertisements. Competitive gaming brings massive audiences on the internet and at major tournaments to watch the top players compete in a array of video games. In the last few years, marketers have been waking up to the world of e-sports, as they try to find new ways to talk to customers steeped in a digitalnbsp;planet.
This week, Labatt Breweries of Canada will launch its initial sponsorships within this region, hosting a VIP lounge at DreamHack, a collection of global digital festivals which have e-sports competitions coming to Montreal beginning Friday. For $100, fans can reserve access to some Bud Light Living Room, where opponents Justin (JWong) Wong and Ryan (FChamp) Rodriguez will host skills practices, in addition to a tournament where fans can compete for the opportunity to play against both on the large screen on the festival’s main stage. The brewer has partnered with JWong and FChamp in both Canada and the USA, and will attempt to reach more fans through their social networking followings. In addition, it has signed a partnership deal with Twitch, a popular gaming site and social network. It intends to develop “branded content” for Twitch to reach traffic to the website, which live-streams competitions and enables players to get in touch with eachnbsp;other.
Bud Light first launched its own e-sports attempts in america last year. The new deals are a Canadian-specificnbsp;initiative.
“I have seen a few of the live events that occur here in Toronto, filling stadiums. That was one of those tipping points for me: tens of thousands of people coming to watch people play live. It’s a real spectator sport,” stated Todd Allen, vice-president of advertising for Canada in Anheuser-Busch InBev, which possesses Labatt. “We are looking to be long-term innbsp;e-sports.”
E-sports have already started bringing mainstream recognition in the advertising world. The worldwide e-sports market is estimated to be worth $1.13-billion (U.S.), and is still growing, according to research company SuperData. Nearly three-quarters of these earnings come from advertising and sponsorships.
Big-name patrons have included Arby’s, Audi, Chipotle, Coca-Cola, Gillette and PepsiCo. Talent agency giant WME-IMG, which represents celebrities such as actors, athletes and musicians, moved into e-sports in 2015, and today runs an e-sports league, ELeague, in partnership with Turnernbsp;Broadcasting.
Some games are now shown on tv on TBS in America, and on Super Channel in Canada. ESPN2 has broadcast some championships. Nevertheless, the overwhelming next is on electronic stations. This year, Rogers Communications Inc. Signed an exclusive deal with ESL (formerly Electronic Sports League) to launch e-sports TV live-streaming through Sportsnet Now. And Facebook has been moving into loading e-sportsnbsp;articles.
Twitch, which Amazon purchased in 2014 for $970-million, also draws significant audiences for live events and enables gamers to upload their own videos of the play. In 2015, Cineplex Inc. Obtained WorldGaming, a platform for hosting e-sports competitions — both online and bigger tournament events — fornbsp;$15-million.
“While the very idea that people are willing to pay to see other people play video games might appear odd to some, we don’t have any doubt that eSports is big, and getting bigger,” CIBC analyst Robert Bek wrote in a research note this past year, including that of the 214 million individuals who observe e-sports globally, 69 percent are aged 18 to 34 and 85 percent are male. “For sponsors/advertisers … the allure of eSports is quite clear; the genre appeals to a narrow, desired, and increasingly hard-to-pin-downnbsp;demographic.”
Bud Light’s first “All Stars” sponsorship was criticized by some for hand-picking nominees that didn’t look like the cover of the area in e-sports, including some who were not competing actively on the most current or most popularnbsp;matches.
“The way that they engaged [in america], it is very corporate. It is very forced. They do not bring fans into help mould the app, it is like they have a set vision,” stated Dan Ciccone, head of RevXP, a branch of Chicago-based sports advertising agency Revolution which focuses on e-sports. But he said the organization is correct to not pull away as a consequence of thenbsp;criticism.
“Traditional sports associations, they are referring to the attrition especially of the younger male audience,” Mr. Ciccone stated. “E-sports affords marketers the chance to eventually reach that audience which they have had a tough time reaching for yearsnbsp;today.”
E-Sports still has room for expansion in Canada, said Charles Watson, founder of Kitchener-based SetToDestroyX, the biggest group of e-svents teams in the nation. He believes the market needs more tournaments — and morenbsp;patrons.
“There is still a great deal of work that has to be done here from a marketing standpoint,” he said. There’s a enormous amount of potential that has not been touched. It blows my mind sometimes, that you’ve got such a massive market … and you are just beginning to see traditional businesses right now focusing onnbsp;Canada.”
Bud Light’s plan in Canada is borrowed from other live events which are the brand’s attention for decades: it hosts various “living rooms” at music festivals, sporting events and elsewhere, like along with a UFC event in Edmonton nextnbsp;week.
“Experiences are the new money,” Mr. Allen said. “The trend has been away from ‘premium’ as defined by your own accumulation of possessions. Younger people value experiences over matters. … That is no different than our approach of bringing fans closer to sports or music. We are super excited to bring that same philosophy to e-svents.”