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Emerging Opportunities for Brands in eSports & Gaming

Traditional ‘in-game’ advertising opportunities have taken a long pause thanks to COVID-19. Fortunately though, there are emerging advertising opportunities for brands as eSports and gaming become available on mainstream channels.

Filling in a variety of gaps mid-pandemic, eSports burst into the mainstream like the Kool-Aid Man and has marketing teams paying attention. Here we’ll focus on some of the newer developments like:

  • The rising audience reach in eSports and gaming.
  • TBS capturing massive reach with eLeague.
  • Disney dominating the eSports arena.
  • Fox Sports’ forward thinking eNASCAR event.

online gaming and esports

And eSports and the gaming industry in general are putting up impressive numbers in both reach and revenue:

  • Between 2020-2024 the global eSports market is expected to maintain a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.19% and reach $2.4B by 2024.
  • eSports total audience reach was 395M viewers in 2018 and is projected to reach 646M by 2023; resulting in a CAGR of 10.4%.
  • In the interest of gaming in general, the video game industry as a whole is expected to top $200B by 2023, led by mobile and cloud gaming.

eSports & Gaming Audience Reach Growing

Viewership of eSports has been gaining ground over the years and lockdowns due to coronavirus have propelled it into the mainstream this year. Way back in 2012 the eSports audience was a scant 134M viewers, with only 58M of those considered frequent viewers. Estimates put this year’s numbers at 495M, while forecast to reach 646M by 2023 according to a recent Newzoo report.

esports-audience-growth-good-news-for-advertisers

And that growing numbers of eyeballs brought in just under a billion dollars in revenue in 2019 at $957.5M. With eSports putting up these kinds of numbers, let’s look at some demographics and sentiment surrounding the space.

Interestingly, the average age of those viewers in the U.S. is a little older than you might expect, coming in at 29 years old, with the 25-34 age bracket capturing 39% of total viewership. And perhaps more surprising are the professions returned when we look into the demographics of the eSports social conversation.

esports-audience-demographics

As you can see, sales and marketing folks are contributing 14% of the conversation over the last few months, which makes sense given the buzz around the industry. For curiosity’s sake, we ran an analysis through the news and blogs dataset which revealed overwhelming positivity regarding the marketing sector of eSports.

esports-marketing-clusters-by-sentiment

But it’s not just advertising agencies and marketing teams enjoying sky-high levels of net sentiment. Here’s a look at the overall sentiment of the eSports conversation when we pull it into Quid Social:

esports-social-sentiment-summary

Amidst all this positive social traction, traditional TV broadcast networks have taken note; which also opens new doors for advertisers. That said, let’s take a look at a few brands capturing hearts and minds in the eSports space.

TBS Touts eLeague

TBS was really ahead of the emerging trends when it launched eLeague back in 2016. TBS’s eLeague was the first eSports tournament to span multiple weeks that was aired on broadcast television.

The first season featured 24 eSports teams competing in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive over the course of 10 weeks for $1.4M in prize money. Since its inception, eLeague has featured many events including the FIFA 20 FUT Champions Cup in February of this year.

Ongoing offerings include the Rocket League Championship Series Season X with teams competing for $4.5M in prize money. Additionally, their popular eLeague Super Punch show hosts a running social commentary on the world of eSports and features a revolving guest-list of influencers.

eleague-tv-advertising-on-tbs

online gaming and esports

Disney Dominates eSports Arena 

Disney is leaving no stone unturned in the world of eSports. In case you didn’t know, Disney also owns ABC and ESPN, which in conjunction with Disney XD has broadcast the Overwatch League and the EVO Championship Series. And yes, they’re a big deal.

Back in June, Disney also hosted the first-ever 2020 Walt Disney World EGF High School National Championships of Rocket League which it aired on ESPN2. Hosting and broadcasting an inaugural tournament that early in the pandemic is definitely no small task.

But even earlier than that, and perhaps foreshadowing things to come, April 5th brought the first-ever ESPN eSports Day, featuring 12 hours of eSports action. The offering included the F1 eSports Virtual Grand Prix featuring current Formula 1 drivers, the Rocket League Season 8 World Championship Grand Finals and the NBA2k Players Tournament.

Early in the pandemic it was just what many sports fans needed in the midst of lockdown measures and zero real-life sporting events. Disney is no stranger to market intelligence, and with the numbers that eSports are generating, we’ll definitely be seeing more of them in the eSports conversation.

Disney-Rocket-League-offers-many-advertising-opportunities-for-brands

Fox Sports Sees Future with eNascar Racing

But apparently Disney isn’t the only savvy brand using market intelligence to stay on the leading edge of emerging trends. In just the third weekend of March, while people where still panic buying toilet paper, Fox and NASCAR presented the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series which aired on FS1.

Fox-FS1-enascar-racing-offers-brands-advertising-opportunities

Instead of hitting the track, NASCAR drivers took to virtual cars – trying to out-perform their peers as if it was the real thing. It was a brilliant move on the part of Fox that juggled a lot of moving parts and ended up being a big win for NASCAR drivers and fans … and the network too, of course!

overwhelming-positive-participant-response-to-eracing

The event got a lot of traction and at the time was the highest-rated eSports TV program ever. “Additionally, according to rankings by Twitter interactions, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series on FS1 was the #1 most-social TV program overall on Sunday. NASCAR-owned content related to the event also produced more than one million engagements throughout the weekend,” Fox Sports said in a press release.

Fox, Disney and TBS made some bold moves to deliver content that matters to millions of people. These are great examples of forward-thinking brands able to adjust quickly to capture market share – and in some cases, spooky fast.

Market Intelligence is an eSport Essential

There are lessons to be learned here in the importance of diligent market intelligence monitoring that fosters situational awareness of the emerging trends surrounding your brand; and also in the potential for marketers in eSports aired on broadcast television.

Rest assured that top brands are not relying on warm, fuzzy feelings to make swift market moves such as these. At the speed of online today, brand leaders rely on next generation artificial intelligence (AI) to not only harvest the entire conversation, but to extract intel down to a granular level ensuring that every decision is data driven. Are you confident of your market intelligence? Reach out for a demo and we’ll help you get your brand on the fast track to actionable consumer and market insight!

online gaming and esports

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