Esports is having its virtual moment in the sun. While traditional sports are reemerging from their COVID-19 slumber, esports never hit the pause button. Instead, many tournaments shifted from live competition in arenas to live competition online. The broadcasts continued all along, and advertisers have been jumping on the opportunity.
Despite the fact that 60% of major companies have cut advertising budgets, big brands have moved some of their allocated marketing spend to esports. One eMarketer study projects that US-based esports ad revenues will climb 12% to $196 million this year. A sure sign of success for the esports industry is the influx of non-endemic brands. Leading esport League of Legends has seen companies like Mastercard, KitKat, and Honda join its innovative in-game banner system recently.
Riot Games’ approach to luring brands into esports is notable, but traditional sponsorships are what most esports viewers favor. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, when esports viewers were asked which types of advertising they most prefer to see when watching competition, team sponsorships and sponsored streams/videos were the most popular answers. And, team sponsorships were the top choice overall, with 17% of esports viewers ranking it first.
Given the importance of sponsor revenue to teams and publishers, this bodes well for the future of esports, as putting sponsor logos on jerseys, merchandise, gaming equipment or on live broadcasts is relatively easy to implement, and the payoff is huge.