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Volume 21 No. 1
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Turner expecting to sell out Eleague ad slots

Turner Sports expects to sell out its ad sales inventory when it launches its Eleague with WME-IMG in May.

The network is charging advertisers about $2 million for one-year deals, and guaranteeing exclusivity in eight categories, including quick-service restaurant, soft drinks and insurance. Deals will include a combination of TV (TBS) and digital (Twitch) inventory.

The league launches May 24 and runs until the July 30 championship. TBS will carry its shows on Friday nights, in the 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. window. TBS’s first e-sports show is May 27.

“We’ve gotten more calls and conversations with advertisers and other businesses that want to join this business with us,” said David Levy, Turner Broadcasting System president. “It’s a little early to start bringing on new partners and new opportunities. But it shows you the popularity of what’s happening.”

One marketing executive with a national brand described his company as eager to get involved in e-sports because of the advertiser-friendly demographic that follows the competition so rabidly — the young men and women who make up e-sports’ fan base are difficult to reach. To underscore that interest, the executive said that his company is looking to sponsor an e-sports team in addition to negotiating an ad deal with Turner and WME-IMG’s Eleague.

Because this marks the Eleague’s first year, Turner is limiting its ad sales deals to one year. After this year, Turner will look to cut three-year ad deals for the league.

“It’s year one, and we’re learning,” said Seth Ladetsky, Turner Sports senior vice president of ad sales, considered the team’s e-sports expert. “It’s so new. We don’t want to undersell ourselves. Our clients also don’t want to be locked into something that maybe they don’t want to move forward with.”

Turner describes its e-sports ad sales push as a joint sales effort with WME-IMG.

Its focus on eight categories is so each advertiser can stand out. Turner would not say how many spots it will run during each telecast, allowing that the competition will have natural breaks in the action during which it will run commercials.

“It’s about a less cluttered environment,” Ladetsky said. “Sponsors can stand out more because we’re moving forward with a lower commercial load than normal.”

Longtime Turner executives say they have never seen as much interest in a property as they’ve seen in e-sports. Jon Diament, Turner Sports executive vice president of ad sales and marketing, called it “the easiest sport ever to get a meeting on.”