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Volume 26 No. 7
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Comcast Xfinity Renews Sponsorship Of Esports Tourney Organizer ESL, Evil Geniuses

Comcast Xfinity has renewed its sponsorship of both esports tournament organizer ESL and the franchise Evil Geniuses in separate one-year extensions, a vote of confidence in the growing yet turbulent industry. Terms were not disclosed, but the brand’s investment has grown as more attention comes to esports, said Comcast Senior Dir of Sports Brand Marketing Matt Lederer. “We look at this as a big-four type level of sponsorship. This is not a league-level deal, when you look at all of it, but it’s comparable to how we work with local NFL/MLB type teams." In the last two years, mainstream consumer brands have become bigger players in esports, but renewals and major expansions are still closely tracked for signs of real commitment. As a high-speed internet provider, Xfinity is both an endemic service provider to gamers and a brand with a broad consumer play. With advice from GMR Marketing, Comcast layered its ESL sponsorship with a team deal to mimic a league- plus-team approach common in other sports. It first signed the deals in May '16. In Year 1, Comcast sponsored the analysts’ desk at key ESL events, and also prominently placed branding at Evil Genuises’ two training facilities in Alameda, Calif., and Chicago. In the second year, Lederer said, they will emphasize branded content creation. ESL VP/Global Sponsorships Paul Brewer praised Comcast for what he called its understated, careful entry in to esports, where fans are especially sensitive to overwrought or ham-fisted messages. “As you establish yourself in this space, it’s easy to grow, and it’s a lot easier to do damage control than if you come in too heavy."