Cords? Cut. Print? Paltry. Box office? Busted.
We live in a world where modern media is constantly changing. Partially a circumstance of the pandemic and partially digital trends a long time coming, how people consume and create content is changing. As traditional sports left television in the spring, Twitch’s hours watched doubled. In esports, many organisations are focusing more on building a media brand than purely competitive success. As esports organisations look for paths to profitability, creating content is becoming an increased priority.
No hiring in the last few months highlights that trend better than Envy Gaming’s new CEO. A veteran of multiple forms of media, Adam Rymer has been at the forefront of where media was headed. Now that focus has taken him to esports.
“When you look at the changing demographics and how the next generation is consuming content, it’s much more experiential in nature,” Rymer told Esports Insider. “Whether its Twitch or YouTube, you look at the ways people are interacting with content and gaming is uniquely positioned to take advantage of that when compared to TV or film for example.”
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Rymer’s career took him through some of the most prestigious offices in film production. He spent seven years at Universal Pictures, ascending to SVP of Digital Properties. After that, he spent four years at Lava Bear Films serving as COO and CFO. Following Lava Bear, Rymer serves as president of Nerdist Industries and Legendary Digital Networks. After a brief stop off as interim CEO of Omnislash, Rymer was hired by Envy Gaming.
“When we were over at Legendary, Twitch was just a nascent platform,” Rymer said. “We took a shot on creating a Twitch channel that wasn’t based on video games but on tabletop gaming, book clubs and dungeons and dragons. We built that channel into one of the most subscribed channels on Twitch. That’s an example of just finding your audience wherever they are.”
Esports organisations are great at creating content. Strong social media, influencer partnerships, and in-house production teams are staples at every major organisation. Many organisations started out as homes for content, be it Call of Duty sniping like FaZe Clan or a League of Legends forum like TSM. But Rymer believes there are still plenty of untapped opportunities for content in esports.
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“There’s a major disconnect between the amount of people playing games and the amount of people watching esports events and passionately following professional teams,” Rymer said. “That can’t just be an awareness issue. Some of it has to be related to the type of content that’s being produced. I don’t know what the answer is. My plan is to experiment with a lot of different things and create something new for people watching esports.”
While influencers are playing roles of increased importance in esports organisations, competitive play will always be a driver of fandom. As Rymer comes in as CEO, Mike “Hastr0” Rufail moves over to Chief Gaming Officer. The former CEO will now focus his attention on building out top rosters by recruiting players and supporting them at events.
“The history of Envy, and Mike’s legacy, is not something we are going to leave behind,” Rymer explained. “Envy is a longterm great brand with a history of championships, that’s something we want to build off. We want to be building a bigger fan base, building more success with our teams, building more types of content around those two things and jump at opportunities as they become available down the line.”
Media changes quicker than almost any other industry. When Team Envy was founded, Netflix was still built around mailing DVDs and MySpace was at the peak of the social media game. Over thirteen years, plenty has changed in esports and in the way people consume content. With change being the only constant, adaptability has become crucial to success.
“I think esports organisations can adapt faster than almost anyone else,” Rymer said. “Change is the nature of what we all do. Games make updates all the time and we have to adapt to them. New games come out and we have to figure out if we are going to be playing in them or not. Social platforms are coming in, sometimes getting bigger and sometimes going away. The people in the esports world, both the players and the executives, are pretty nimble by nature. That gives esports a leg to stand on as opposed to some of the more traditional businesses that have had a tough time adapting.”