Waco Hoover is the CEO and Co-Founder of XLIVE, a company which believes in doing live events differently.
This summer, come August (22-24), XLIVE is organising an Esports Summit in New York City. We’ve seen a number of esports business events emerge in the past year but there’ve been few in the big apple. We spoke to Waco about the summit which has ESL CEO Craig Levine, ELEAGUE’s VP and GM Christina Alejandre, Facebook Head of Esports Patrick Chapman and more confirmed to speak.
Esports Insider: So we’ve seen a number of esports conferences emerge in the past year, why is the XLIVE Esports Summit any different?
Waco: XLIVE is focused on creating extraordinary live event experiences and one of the key tenants of esports is the live event component.
We work across not only esports but are able to draw upon knowledge and resources from traditional sports, music festivals, food, beer & wine festivals, brands that host their own events along with a huge emphasis on event tech that connects all these live event markets. Because we have deep relationships in these tangential markets we can incorporate learning and best practices that are relevant to the esports community. The ability to learn from outside your own industry, from relevant stakeholders offers more opportunity for innovation.
“Attendees come to a business conference for a number of things; address pain points, learn best practices, hear something new, learn about new tools/tech available, network with their peers, understand future trends and be inspired at some level”
Another key component will be the programs focus on the role and impact of sports, brands and event technology. These three areas will all play important roles for the esports community to fully monetise and grow their assets in the future. We’re excited about the dialogue that will take place in August.
ESI: You’ve a number of speakers from both inside and outside esports – is this mix important?
Waco: We think the appropriate amount of perspective from outside the industry is very important.
“Traditional sports and music festivals are two segments that esports can learn many valuable lessons from”
While esports is growing rapidly, it also still has a lot to learn as a community which represents tremendous opportunity. A potential source of innovation is bringing in ideas from analogous events. Pooling insights from analogous areas is powerful because teams versed in analogous fields are not mentally constrained by existing, “known” solutions to the problem in the target area and can draw on different pools of knowledge. That will be a key distinction of the August program in NYC so that attendees can hear first hand from comparable markets.
ESI: The XLIVE team are events people through and through. Taking into account your knowledge in the area how do you think esports tournaments and events as a whole can better monetise? Moreover, how can they appeal to a wider audience?
Waco: Successfully selling sponsorships and activating them is one critical part of monetisation but measuring the return is an area all events can continue to improve upon.
Demonstrating return and value with quantitative data is where we’re headed and it’s what sponsors will expect in the future. Event tech platforms that enable the organiser to do so are something all organisations should be looking at. There are also significant opportunities to generate additional revenue from enhanced onsite experiences with food, beverage, talent/athlete engagement and other immersive experiences. The streaming and broadcast mediums are another area for monetisation that represent a tremendous amount of opportunity given the millions of viewers for esports events.
“When you think about player recruitment, development, culture and brand building these are all things that professional sports has been doing for decades and these are areas esports can borrow from significantly”
As you broaden the appeal and value through additional experiences at the event, it stops becoming about just seeing gaming competition but also the other activities taking place so you end up moving the needle on who might want to attend your event. Social influencers will be more likely to have another friend or family member come along as a result.
ESI: Which industries do you think esports stands to learn best from? And which lessons should it take on board?
Waco: Traditional sports and music festivals are two segments that esports can learn many valuable lessons from.
Music festivals started with the core focus on the bands in the lineup but have now evolved to include so many other experiences that both broadened the audience and increased monetisation opportunities. The more value a ticket represents means that you can charge a premium for that ticket. If you add ancillary revenue streams, the event can increase top line growth. VIP packages have become a staple representing another opportunity to transform the experience and increase revenue as well. It’s important to recognise that when borrowing ideas you have to apply them to the culture of your community to realise the desired effect.
“We think the appropriate amount of perspective from outside the industry is very important”
Sports has parallels to the aforementioned lessons but represents other opportunities as well. There has been a huge amount of investment and interest in esports from the professional sports community. When you think about player recruitment, development, culture and brand building these are all things that professional sports has been doing for decades and these are areas esports can borrow from significantly.
We will have panelists from the NBA, European Football leagues, NFL and others addressing this topic in August.
ESI: What makes for a memorable business conference?
Waco: Generally speaking attendees come to a business conference for a number of things; address pain points, learn best practices, hear something new, learn about new tools/tech available, network with their peers, understand future trends and be inspired at some level. If attendees walk away having checked the box in a few of these categories there is significant value in that. In particular, when you can take that back and share it with your organisation.
“We have panelists from the NBA, European Football leagues, NFL and others addressing this topic in August”
Our goal for the XLIVE Esports Summit is to convene industry stakeholders to address the most pressing issues facing the industry but also enable attendees to identify new opportunities for growth and organisations that they can partner with to do so.
Disclaimer: Esports Insider is an official media partner of the XLIVE Esports Summit