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Volume 24 No. 113

Media

The NFLPA and its Players Inc. licensing/marketing arm has signed a five-year contract extension with social media marketing platform Opendorse. This follows the original deal signed in ’13 and is aimed at aiding NFL players in striking relationships with brand partners for social media activations. It also will look to expand the amount of local and regional brand alignments, particularly in the collegiate markets where NFLPA members previously played. “There are still a lot of untapped opportunities we see together,” said Players Inc. President Ahmad Nassar. Contract terms were not disclosed. Since the two parties began working together, more than 850 NFL players have used Opendorse to share branded content on social, and more than 3,500 social media campaigns have been executed. The renewal also follows a $3.5M Series A funding round last fall involving several former Univ. of Nebraska football players, LeadDog President & CEO Dan Mannix, and F1 Managing Dir of Commercial Operations Sean Bratches, among others. “This partnership with the NFLPA has exceeded our expectations and it felt like a no-brainer to extend it,” said Opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence. “When we first started this, we were probably a little ahead of the times. But the market has begun to catch up to what we’re doing.”

Facebook has acquired the exclusive English and Portuguese-language streaming rights to two major esports properties -- the ESL Pro League and ESL One circuit. YouTube previously had the English language rights to the Pro League. The deal cover four seasons -- or two years -- of Pro League action, and one year of the ESL One tournament series. The league is owned by the World Esports Association (WESA), a group comprised of tournament organizer ESL and 13 teams in the U.S. and Europe. ESL One is owned by ESL, and its Facebook streaming will begin with ESL One Genting starting Jan. 26. Terms were not disclosed. Both sides said the exclusive relationship will allow ESL and WESA to make better use of Facebook’s social media and advertising tools to monetize viewers of the stream, and to use Facebook’s unique size -- 2 billion global users -- to create new esports fans. Facebook will stream live competition in HD and VR, and ESL will be able to cross-post video from its own page to those maintained by individual players and teams. “This is the future of distribution and consumption of digital first content like ours,” said WESA Exec Chair & Commissioner Ken Hershman. “So for our teams, collectively, to be able to start to migrate a lot of their business over to Facebook, both as part of a league and individually, is a very exciting proposition." Facebook Head of Esports & Gaming Partnerships Patrick Chapman said ESL now gets 45% of its live ticket sales from the platform, driven in part by a May ‘17 on-demand content programming deal. Other languages will be streamed on different platforms. About 65% of ESL's global audience is English-speaking.

For more coverage of the business of esports, visit our partners, esportsobserver.com.