Spotify to amplify the sound of esports culture
Music is a major part of the League of Legends culture, and publisher Riot Games has leveraged this into a unique new sponsorship deal with Spotify. The streaming giant, which has around 300 million active users, will announce this week that it is the first official global audio service provider of League of Legends.
Terms were not revealed, but Spotify receives ad inventory during League of Legends broadcasts, and the sides will create a League of Legends hub on the Spotify platform that will have exclusive content, including a podcast to give a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of this year’s World Championship anthem.
Spotify will also get in-gaming signage — part of the Summoner’s Rift Arena Banners project that Riot rolled out earlier this year — and one of its broadcast integrations is that it will be the presenting partner of deciding Game 5 showdowns between teams playing a best-of-five match.
League of Legends has been making music for years around its video game franchise and acts as both the label and distributor for most of its own soundtracks.
“Music is already such an important part of the League of Legends esports universe and one of the many ways it deepens our fans’ engagement in the sport and game,” said Naz Aletaha, Riot Games’ head of global esports partnerships and business development. “Creating this hub, which will house our music, new podcasts and playlists inspired by the gaming community, is going to create this really compelling destination for League of Legends fans around the world.”
Spotify has been increasingly interested in sports and esports; in February it acquired The Ringer, the sports and pop culture website and podcast network. However, Spotify has not done a sports partnership of this scale before, according to June Sauvaget, Spotify’s global head of consumer and product marketing.
“This is definitely a new way of approaching how two companies can come together,” she said. “As we think about our audiences, it’s no secret that gaming audiences are extremely important and have significant overlap with Spotify audiences. We do have a lot of content on our platform related to sports, and gaming is a passionate point for our audience … but this partnership is the first of its kind.”
The sides first started talking in June of last year. League of Legends already had an official Spotify page that has more than 5 million followers.
The Los Angeles-based publisher’s interest in music stems in part from how it releases an anthem every year for Worlds. Riot said its anthem from 2018, K/DA’s “Popstars,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard World Digital chart and has been streamed 146 million times on Spotify.
League of Legends has 12 global series, and Sauvaget said that some of the regions where Riot has a presence has a “strong overlap with regions we have prioritized in strategic importance,” which added to Spotify’s desire to do the deal.
Aletaha said that music streaming became a natural sponsor category to go after given how much it is a part of the game’s culture.
“We want to bring in best-of-class partners who are at the top of their businesses to come in and amplify the sport and overall fan experience, and audio and music absolutely deepens the engagement you see around the sport,” she said. “We’re really excited to essentially just join forces with Spotify to create new and compelling experiences.”
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