Combining trends of rising social media usage and esports viewership can lead to significant future growth from any brand partnership.
Esports have grown out of its trendy status and are here to stay. What many thought would be a fad has now grown into a worldwide phenomenon and is challenging conventional entertainment giants.
The largest global esports event, The Dota 2 International Championship, was viewed by 40 million people with as many as two million watching at one point. The entire tournament drew 92 million viewers with over 509 million hours of video consumed.
The League of Legends World Championship brought in even larger crowds than Dota’s with a total of almost 58 million viewers, a yearly growth of 34%. The semi-finals drew a total of 80 million unique people watching concurrently. The parent company, Riot Games, boasts that their events feature professionals from 28 different countries, its global audience consuming over 1.2 billion hours of content.
If these events continue to grow at their current rates, it will only be a matter of time before they surpass the Super Bowl, which reaches over 110 million unique viewers.
Similarly, worldwide social media usage has been rising exponentially, with an estimate two-and-a-half billion global users. Users within the 16-34 age demographic spend an average of 3.21% of their day watching social media video like esports. The average age of a US esports viewer lies within the 25-34 age group, making up almost 40% of the total audience. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have begun their scramble to be included in the esports market.
However, it is important to reach these consumers exclusively on social media. Companies like ESPN and NBC are trying to bring esports to television audiences, but esports ratings clearly point to fans’ desire to keep content in the digital sphere. Brands can capitalize on this by seizing the opportunity to advertise on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch or even partnering with well-known esports professionals like Lee “Faker” Sang-hyoek, Soren Bjerg, and Yiliang Peng.
Take for example Gillette’s move to announce professional esports gamer xPeke as its Global Brand Ambassador. The Spanish celebrity was featured in first-of-its-kind commercials with esports highlights to promote the partnership and it spread all over YouTube. Gillette also collaborated xPeke with their international superstar partner Neymar Jr. leading to increased exposure for him and esports in general.
Another company, HyperX, decided to endorse a crossover athlete, NBA player Gordon Hayward. This apparel deal showed the early connection between esports and traditional celebrities, with Hayward agreeing to only wear HyperX headsets and appear in campaigns for the brand that is popular with gamers.
Celebrity marketing continues to evolve with the integration of esports into the entertainment sphere. Brands can now reach a sizable market of international consumers through a partnership with talent from prominent esports leagues. Getting in on the action at this point will put brands in a prime position to reap the benefits of larger audiences going forward.
photo credit: nullienphotography via flickr.com