SBJ buys stake in Berlin-based esports site
SportsBusiness Journal has acquired a minority stake in The Esports Observer, a Berlin-based online publisher that covers esports business news, operates industry events and provides marketplace data.
Along with the investment, the two publishers expect to collaborate on news coverage, commercial matters and conferences, executives said. In the deal, SBJ parent American City Business Journals has an option to make additional investments in the future. Financial terms were not made public.
“It’s clear to all of us at SportsBusiness Journal and to our readers who work and invest in traditional sports that esports is an exciting and significant development,” said ACBJ CEO Whitney Shaw in a statement. “This partnership allows SBJ to extend its authority and credibility into esports.”
Founded in 2015, The Esports Observer is one of several websites created in recent years to benefit from the rise of competitive video gaming and the flow of investor and brand money into the space. It’s a portfolio company of BITKRAFT Esports Ventures network, led by ESL founder Jens Hilgers, who also is an owner of the esports team G2.
With esports competitive scenes flourishing in North America, Europe and Asia, a trans-Atlantic partnership will prove valuable, executives said. BITKRAFT has an office in Los Angeles, but The Esports Observer is run from Berlin. It employs eight people and publishes a daily and weekly email newsletter. Distribution figures were not made public.
“This partnership will strengthen our ability to provide coverage in the U.S. and organize conferences in tandem with SBJ and its sister company in London, Leaders,” said Esports Observer CEO Christopher Hana.
Online coverage of general gaming proliferates on a wide range of websites, YouTube commentators’ pages and Reddit, but original reporting on esports business news is handled by a much smaller group, including ESPN.com, which launched a dedicated vertical in 2016. SportsBusiness Journal has been covering esports as a dedicated beat since early 2016 and aggregates esports content in both SportsBusiness Daily and Global. It’s also producing the Esports Rising conference Nov. 9 in Marina del Rey, Calif.
Teresa Walsh of Access Media Advisors advised ACBJ on the transaction.