leather esports chair inside Platform Shoreditch

What Are eSports and Why Should Brands Care?

With nearly 557 million viewers predicted by 2021, it’s time to start taking eSports seriously.

What are eSports?

An ‘eSport’ is not you playing 8-ball pool on your smartphone during your morning commute.

eSports (electronic sports) is competitive video gaming at a professional level.

I’m sure you heard the story of a 16-year-old US teenager winning $3 million after becoming world champion at free-to-play game Fortnite.

eSports are a combination of team-based games (such as Call of Duty) and solo games such as before-mentioned Fortnite.

Real-world sports teams are getting involved too – the ePremier League allows fans to represent their favourite teams in FIFA 20 Tournaments.

Last year’s final was broadcast on Sky Sports and Twitch, reaching nearly 14 million views.

What makes eSports so unique is that anyone can make it big. Our client Platform is London’s first dedicated gaming bar, complete with an officially licensed ‘eSports training ground’.

Platform Shoreditch visitors playing call of duty on eSports computers

‘Noobs’ and ‘Vets’ alike can hone their skills here. 

It is easy to get confused by gaming jargon (noob = ‘newbie’) but one thing is clear – with a growing audience and dedicated fans, eSports present a massive marketing opportunity for businesses.

Who watches eSports?

62% of esports viewers are aged between 18 – 34.

The audience is older than most people imagine – making it an excellent channel to reach millennials.

 After all, 43% of millennials say that they always appreciate brands that reach out to them in the gaming world.

Although eSports caters to a mostly male audience, interest amongst women is increasing.

Currently around 30% of eSports audiences are female and this growing as it becomes more widely accessible.

“For brands and fans, esports offers something that most traditional sports cannot- nearly unprecedented access to star players” – AdAge

Most of this happens online – esports players regularly interact with fans through social media and video-streaming platforms YouTube and Twitch.

I know about YouTube, but what is Twitch?

Twitch is an Amazon-owned video live streaming service where fans can watch their favourite streamers (eSports or otherwise) play video games. 

It draws 9.7 million active daily users.

Fans can regularly chat with other fans and their favourite streamers – who often respond immediately.

Aside from a rare live-stream Q&A, its difficult to imagine real-world celebrities interacting with fans in such a personal manner.

Twitch’s popularity is partly due to its low ad frequency – only a couple of ads an hour are displayed to viewers. This will likely increase as the platform gains popularity.

How brands can get involved

An accessible way of tapping into the eSports market is by sponsoring a streamer to wear, consume or endorse your product.

“Streamers are the new ‘influencers’ of the gaming world” – E1MA

Like using influencers (or advertising on podcasts), this can be effective as fans trust their favourite streamers will recommend them quality products/services.

You can also immediately measure the effectiveness of a in-stream “shout-out” unlike traditional advertising channels.

One risk for brands is that unlike carefully curated influencer posts, streaming is unedited and unfiltered.

 Streamers often record 12+ hours a day and you cannot have constant control over what they say. 

Like influencer marketing, a high level of trust between the brand and the content creator is essential for success.

Concluding Words

eSports is no longer ‘niche hobby’.

It has become a mainstream sport, with fan-filled stadiums, sponsors and influential star players.

You do not need to be a major corporate entity to get involved in this fast-expanding  market.

Take a gamble and align your brand with a small-time streamer.

Because you never know who will be the next eSports superstar or Twitch sensation.

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