This past month has been a mad blur of traditional sports clubs and brands investing and expressing interest in esports. screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-4-43-17-pm

Whilst this has been met with some skepticism as to their intentions long term from some in various esports communities, it can’t be denied that big money entering is exciting.

Moreover the entrance of traditional sports clubs means engagement with many potential fans who may not have known or given esports a chance without this link. 

So why are these clubs and brands entering, and what’s in it for them? Newzoo’s latest report states that amongst American male millennials (or those aged 21 to 35) esports is equally as popular as baseball or ice hockey. A total of 22% watch esports in some form. 

Another notable comparison lies with American football where 56% of fans are older than 35 while esports fans are far younger with 73% below the age of 35. This matters hugely to brands, and to clubs too. Nobody wants to get left behind. 

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This is a demographic which brands are finding increasingly hard to reach and so it’s no surprise that they’re investing serious money into finding a place and method to engage with them. Coca Cola, Geico, Vodafone, Samsung, Intel, Buffalo Wild Wings and more are all brands which have involved themselves in sponsorship in some format. 

The report also looks into the maturing of the esports industry itself and the endemic stakeholders. Local leagues such as Gfinity in the UK, the ESWC in France and more are growing, whilst the big organisations are too; ESL now has over 350 employees worldwide. The launch of bodies such as ESIC also makes a difference, as does the amendments to laws which recognise esports professionals as athletes in France, the US and Russia. 

Highly significantly too, 76% of esports enthusiasts stated that watching esports is taking away hours they used to spend watching traditional sports. The report found that of America’s 80 million basketball fans, 9.6 million are also into esports. This could go some way in justifying Philadelphia 76ers recent foray into the world of esports via Dignitas and Apex, and Magic Johnson’s investment (Team Liquid) too. 

Pieter van den Heuvel, Newzoo
Pieter van den Heuvel, Newzoo

Pieter van de Heuvel, Head of Esports at Newzoo, said: “The huge interest in esports from sports celebrities, clubs, media companies, and brands alike illustrate how games are leading the media and entertainment business towards a new future that has more in common with games than not. Games bring innovation in tech and consumer business models, and have a unique ability to engage with and actively involve the younger generations.

“Traditional and digital media and sports companies bring experience in providing advertisers with an effective communication platform. There clearly is a  natural, strategic and commercial fit.”

You can get your hands on the report, titled ‘Why brands and sports want to be in esports’ here

Esports Insider says: 73% of esports fans are 35 and under. And the number of fans worldwide is increasing. Newzoo has found that respondents confirmed that watching esports means they’re watching less traditional sports. Why do brands and sports want in? Because they want a bright future, and don’t want to get left behind.