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Volume 23 No. 13
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Esports Sounding Board

“The thing I have with the coverage of esports is that we struggle a lot from ‘third-child syndrome.’ [Critics say] ‘Well, your brother and sister grew up already, they’ve shown you the way, what do you mean you can’t drive a car at age 6?’ There’s a lot of people who expect esports to have revenues that match traditional sports, when we’re still really young.”

Nathan Lindberg
Director, esports sponsorship sales, Twitch


“It usually takes a year for brands to be introduced to a concept, and actually buy into it, because they work on their budgetary cycles. It happens a year later, so I actually think the end of 2018, and all of 2019, we’ll see explosive growth with brands in that market.”

Dave Bialek
CEO, ReKT Global


“It takes a lot of work, and it takes a lot of imagination. That’s why it’s really important to have the agencies on board. They need to put the work in to come up with compelling stories and longer-term strategies in content that continues to be entertaining and interesting.”

Johannes Waldstein


“Brands have to decide where in that world makes sense for their brand to live. … Were any of us talking about ‘Fortnite’ a year ago? And now it’s this crazy phenomenon. It’s not actually an esports game, it’s a gaming game, but when someone can come along that fast and get that big, as a marketer, it’s disorienting. Imagine if a sport came along a year ago and now it’s getting bigger ratings than the NFL. What do you do about that?”

Rob Simmelkjaer
Senior vice president, NBC Sports Ventures


“These aren’t huge investments so far. In many cases they’re largely media buys, and a lot of brands are still figuring it out, taking a wait-and-see approach, recognizing that in some cases you’ve only got one chance to make a jump into esports.”

Matt Hill
Senior vice president, global sports and entertainment, GMR Marketing


“When we look at the non-endemics coming into the esports world, a lot of them are companies that spend pretty heavily in traditional sports and entertainment. And within those disciplines, there’s a standardized way to measure investment. As our landscape matures, and some of those processes and implementations become standardized, certainly it’s going to make brands feel very comfortable in making significant investments in the esports landscape.”

Mark Cohen
Senior vice president, global brand partnerships, ESL


“What’s happened the last year or two is a lot of brands have moved from an exploratory learning phase to thinking about real planning, real actionable investment. I think they’re moving toward getting in in some way, but it’s still a learning process.”

Seth Ladetsky
Senior vice president of sales and head of digital sales and strategy, Turner Sports/ELeague


“Teams are challenged right now to really craft some incredibly valuable campaigns. It cannot just be about a logo slap, you can’t just have millions of followers and put a logo on a Twitter banner or YouTube title page. It’s not organic, it’s not engaging. It comes down to execution, and true value creation that may require us to go out of our comfort zones.”

Ryan Musselman
Snior vice president, global partnerships, Infinite Esports & Entertainment


“Because the esports industry is so young compared to traditional sports, many fans feel a distinct sense of ownership in the ecosystem. The fact that fans double as custodians creates an extraordinary level of engagement and participation, which is one of the many reasons esports can be such a gratifying place for brands to play.”

Lauren Gaba Flanagan
Director of esports, United Entertainment Group

— Compiled by Ben Fischer

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