Ninja, Shroud, Faker, Bjergsen, Taco. These might not sound like the names of the next big sports star. But if you ask the average young man if they recognize them you might be surprised. Each of them is a recognizable name and brand in the world of gaming and eSports. eSports is traditionally viewed as an interest only held by kids but new studies are showing that the world of eSports taps into a much larger and more valuable demographic.
Last year Nielsen began releasing some of the first information they had gathered on eSports viewership. In Western audiences they found that 71% of viewers are male, the average age is 26, less than 40% watch TV on a weekly basis, and 90% can recall at least one non-gaming related sponsor with eSports. Any sponsorship with a team, player, or organization then will tap directly into one of the most important demographics and reach viewers who are less likely to see advertising via traditional means.
While viewership, on the whole, is always going to be a struggle to quantify, there is accurate information available for specific streams and events. The top events in each of the top eSports games (League of Legends, DOTA2, and Counterstrike: Global Offensive) accounted for a total of 192M hours viewed amongst Western audiences and has a total number of 210 million views (impressions).
One of the top eSports organizations of 2018, Cloud9, had an estimated operating revenue of $22 million which supported 92 players and 11 teams. Industry insiders estimate that anywhere from 20%-40% of a team’s yearly revenue is made up of sponsorships.
So, being the sole sponsor of a top organization comes with an estimated $5 million price tag. For that $5 million you can have your brand be part of the story of an organization like Cloud9 who made waves in 2018 for being the only North American team to win a CS:GO major, winning the first Overwatch Championship, and getting further in the League of Legends World Championship than any North American team in history. Your brand will generate hundreds of millions of impressions during events, league matches, and live streams from the organization’s players. For comparison, that $5 million can buy brands a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl, which in 2018 clocked in at 103 million viewers, which was a decrease over the previous year.
The big takeaway: eSports is growing every year in key demographics. The market is still ripe for traditional or non-gaming brands to establish relationships with top organizations — for prices that rival traditional sponsorships and advertisements. In our research, we’ve found that a top-tier influencer like Kendall Jenner charges $1 million for a post reaching her ~100 million followers. A similar investment into an eSports organization can generate substantially more impressions over the course of a year.