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Volume 25 No. 66
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Esports' Popularity Is Growing, But Attracting Potential Sponsors Remains A Challenge

One of the hottest topics in the sports world has been the rise in popularity of esports. During a panel session on Day 1 of the ’17 Stadium Sports Marketing Symposium, FanAI Founder & CEO Johannes Waldstein said he believes esports is rising because it is approachable. Waldstein: “Esports is one of the few sports that you can watch the best person in the world playing it and then go and do exactly the same thing yourself.” He added, “Engagement is incredibly high, with Twitch being the major channel where that’s being streamed. There are people that are sending hundreds of messages that go out to the players and that go out to the stream. Then you have the coaches and you have staff that are answering those questions in real time so it’s really interactive.” From a marketing perspective, esports has a major advantage from the fact that it is frequently broadcast on a digital platform. Waldstein said, “You have almost all of your audience all digital, which means the very platform knows exactly what they’re doing. You start out knowing something about everybody, which gives you a huge advantage to what you have in a traditional ball-and-stick sport. Couple that with a lot of these people that have their data open. They have a LinkedIn profile, they have authenticated with Facebook Connect, and they let you know what their interests are and who their followers are. You’re able to know more about them than in other sports.” Social media also plays an important role into why esports is so enticing from a marketing perspective. MVPindex co-Founder & CEO Kyle Nelson said, “There’s a whole different experience that’s happening on the social media platforms like Facebook.” He added, “When all these brands are starting to jump in to figure out where do I play in this esports game, it’s not just on Twitch or during the in-game content. It’s out there where the fans are engaging with these celebrities. Where the bigger opportunity is.”

ATTRACTING BRANDS: Octagon Digital Strategist & Group Dir Meredith Kinsman said, “Everyone is a participant in esports and it makes it really exciting from a marketing perspective.” When it comes to which brands are attaching themselves to esports, Kinsman said, “A lot of them are really endemic right now and I think it can definitely branch out from that.” Attracting brands to esports can be a challenging task due to the lack of understanding about the sport. Block Six Analytics CEO Adam Grossman said, “If you looked at the data and you didn’t know it was esports, people would be rushing in to try and advertise and be sponsors.” He added, “People have said, ‘I’ve heard of esports but I don’t really know what it is. I don’t know why people like it and if I don’t get why people like it why am I going to invest money in it.’” Grossman: “This is where data and analytics become really valuable, because you can say here’s the data and here’s the information.”