The term eSports still hasn’t made it into the mainstream vocabulary just yet. It’s getting there, and some outsiders have heard about people sat in gaming chairs, headphones on, controller’s lodged in their hands. Oh, yeah, your computer can do more than just browse stuff. Don’t worry, with eSports set to break the $1Billion mark in the next couple of years, the mainstream will start hearing a lot more about this huge business.
If you work in marketing, however, well, you’re most probably sick of the word eSports because it has been buzzing around the industry for a little while now, and it is a buzz that is only getting louder. There are no two ways about that. That’s because eSports isn’t new, it isn’t a fad, it isn’t one of these easy come, easy go trends like Pokemon Go. No. It is a full blown disruptive phenomenon.
It is proving to be a mega-business, far bigger than anyone could have ever expected, and it is single-handedly changing the face of both entertainment and culture thanks to the growing popularity it has among young people. It has grabbed their attention, shaken it with both hands and refused to let go.
What’s more, big brands are now getting involved because they’ve seen what an influence it has. Intel was the first big name and that has had the longest running sponsorship deal, but other brands, like Taco Bell, are also getting involved too. But before we get into why and who, let’s get stuck into some facts first.
What Is eSports?
In its most basic form, eSports is competitive video gaming being broadcast to a live audience. The first part of that statement, the gaming competitions, is nothing new. What is, however, is the size of the audiences that watch these competitions, which has radically exploded thanks to the growing sophistication of Windows VPS and the advancements broadband streaming.
How Big Is eSports?
In a word, huge. The fact it has managed to stay under the radar of mainstream entertainment is somewhat shocking because the leading eSports streaming site, Twitch.tv, snatches more peak traffic than any other online site, bar Google, Apple, and Netflix.
Yup, Twitch.tv stands at number four in the rankings, ahead of YouTube. Way ahead of YouTube,
actually. To give it a figure, Twitch.tv commands 45% more views than YouTube with users watching 420 minutes of competitive gaming each and every month. That’s the average. When it comes to the big game days, things like League Of Legends, all we can say is ‘wow’ because the only event that commands a larger live audience is the Super Bowl.
What Is Attracting Marketers To eSports?
The thing that has marketers rubbing their hands together is this idea of co-creation. It is something that live streaming has that makes it more attractive to those brands that are looking for places in which they can market themselves. Let’s take the popular site of Twitch.tv as a prime example.
When you open up Twitch in your browser and watch a game, you’ll see gamers sharing a screen that is being streamed by the broadcaster, you will also see a video of the broadcaster, which is usually made up of a pretty emotive and hysterical experience. But what makes the whole thing super important to a marketer is the live chat window. This is where the real action is; questions, answers, debates, suggestions, discussions and reactions. This is where the idea of co-creation comes in.
By having a live chat stream allows users to interact with the other fans and the other viewers, and from this, they can learn. That’s pretty cool. That’s where a streamer really gains in popularity because they take the time to explain a decision, what they did and why they did it. What’s more, though, the live chat also allows users to influence the decisions made by the
The ability to influence decisions is what sets eSports apart from other forms of entertainment. It is this idea of social involvement that makes it active consumption, and that is is what makes it a co-creation experience.
Which Are Brands Already In?
This is somewhat similar to those life experiences where you and your mates are totally up for doing something, you’re just waiting for one of you to go first. Like you’re all sat at the top of a vert pipe on your skateboards, you’re just waiting for one of you to drop in. Saying that there are some big names already attached to the world of eSports.
Intel has been on board since 2006, and throughout that time it has focussed on sponsoring the Extreme Masters, which has a bunch of different titles playing in this tournament. In fact, it’s reach and influence in this industry has become so successful in terms of marketing that they get hundreds of thousands of people coming to their stage events every time they hold one.
Coca-Cola has been a major sponsor of a League Of Legends for a few years too, and through this, it has organically built a healthy reputation. This includes the Twitter handle @CokeeSports
becoming the brand’s second biggest social media account after @cocacola, not to mention the brands venture into a collaboration with IGN, together launching eSports Weekly.
These aren’t the only two big name brands that have seen the potential of eSports, though. Red Bull, Taco Bell, ESPN, and loads more are building their brands through their involvement within the eSports community.
Which Startups Should You Be Watching?
Okay, we have mentioned Twitch.tv, and from what we have said it is to think that this is already an established business, but it is still booming. It is still growing and expanding and breaking down walls of what is considered to be eSports.
Reddit is another one, given that it is a hub that is cherished and celebrated by communities that have mutual passion-points. That is where it’s eSports bridge comes in because hundreds of thousands of people spend hours each and every day discussing their favorite games, videos, live streams and more.
The last one on our list is Kamcord. In essence, what Twitch has done to desktop gaming, Kamcord is trying to do to the world of mobile gaming. What’s more, all early signs seem to be good because there are millions and millions of users already enjoying this platform, with the average stream time per person per day standing at around the twenty-minute mark.