Superdata is a research and analytics firm which compiles reports on the gaming and interactive media industries, including esports.
Esports Insider: Were you at all surprised at the extent of this deal? Is this a ‘bigger win’ for Facebook or ESL?
Joost: No, it’s no surprise. ESL has managed to become a clear leader in esports. After selling off a majority share to MTG, it validated the space but also reduced its number of available revenue streams.
By partnering with Facebook it gains access to a broader audience and increase the return on its many events. In the broader context of Facebook and its relationship to content providers–video, news, etc.–it is notable that the social media giant is seeking out exclusivity. This suggests that Facebook currently looks at esports as a critical component to its video offering, as the audience tends to highly dedicated and strong advocates, allowing an even broader group of viewers to familiarize themselves with esports.
That said, it is clearly a bigger win for ESL which now gains access to a much broader, mainstream audience, which will allow it to sell ad space for more to a broader range of sponsors.
Esports Insider: What’s the significance of the streams being immediately available in six languages ?
Joost: Esports is built on the popularity of specific games. Titles like League of Legends, CS:GO, and Hearthstone enjoy a global audience. Similar to say soccer, which also caters to a global audience, it means that streams need to be made accessible in different languages to build audiences across the world.
Esports Insider: Do you expect the likes of Facebook and more to team up with ESL and teams to offer more localised content going forward?
Joost: Absolutely. Local advertising is a key component to the traditional sports business. Consider for instance that a local sports stadium generates well over half of its revenues from local sponsors. By leveraging Facebook’s user data it will be possible to attract smaller sponsorships that operate locally and thereby expand the available airtime.
Esports Insider: Thoughts on the response from other competitors?
Joost: Competitors like Twitter and Twitch will likely follow the example and look to acquire, either through purchase or license, content that will help grow their respective audiences. It is too early to expect major exclusivity deals, but that inevitably will come down the line.