Overwatch League team Houston Outlaws continues to forge ahead despite the pandemic—making several key hires and strategic partnerships since its acquisition by Beasley Media Group in December.
One notable sponsorship deal was made with North American energy giant NRG and its Reliant Energy brand. Esports Insider caught up with Lori Burgess, Chief Operating Officer of Beasley Esports to discuss the “powerful” alliance.
“NRG is a huge player in the Texas market, where energy is [roughly 85%] deregulated,” said Burgess,” and has a huge presence here in Houston. They sponsor several major sports teams in the state. [NRG] had been really interested in esports and trying to wrap their arms around it. They came to our Homestand event on Feb 29th and March 1st and were intrigued by the Outlaws.”
Energy deregulation makes Texas a highly competitive market, which puts increased pressure on Reliant to stand out with consumers. One way to do that is to attract young Gen Y and Z gamers venturing out on their own.
As part of its agreement with Houston Outlaws, NRG is offering a Reliant Secure Advantage 18 plan. Those who sign up received a $100 (£77.50) Reliant Visa Prepaid Card. The partnership has multiple pieces to it, Burgess explained.
“The real goal for them is to capture younger consumers. It’s a right of passage to get their first apartment and sign up for electricity or buy their first home. [We want them to say] ‘I have choices in the state of TX and why wouldn’t it be a Reliant choice?’
“They really feel like the younger consumer is the one to go after [since] they don’t already have the brand loyalty and predisposition to favour an electricity vendor,” said Burgess. “NRG is heavily vested in this market. I also think a division of the company is doing incredible work in the environmental and green space so it really felt like a great partnership.”
“The first section of our partnership is we want people to reach out, learn more about electricity, sign up, and get a gift as positive reinforcement,” said Burgess. “The second piece, which is super exciting, is a sweepstake where consumers can enter to win to be a part of a content experience with Houston Outlaws.
On August 13th, 10 sweepstakes winners received an Overwatch game token and participated in a private video meet and greet with the Houston Outlaws. The event was hosted by Reliant and used to create video content for the official YouTube channel.
Overall, energy providers have not been a particularly active participant in the esports market. Last year, Royal Dutch Shell made its first foray into esports by sponsoring Riot Games’ League of Legends European Championship (LEC) series and the DACH Premier Tour. In 2018, DreamHack entered into an agreement with Nordic power company Fortum.
“We’re excited about Reliant,” said Burgess. “They’re a company that’s trying to propel [valuable, clean] energy forward and we’re trying to propel fan development on esports. In this particular case, Reliant makes it all possible with our electricity. It felt like a really good partnership.”