On June 4th, TSM and Hong Kong-based crypto exchange FTX sent shockwaves through the industry with the “largest deal in esports history.” FTX invested $210 million to secure naming rights to the esports team for a 10-year period, which is comparable to recent stadium naming deals in traditional sports. For example, Citibank’s deal with the NY Mets (MLB) is the same $21 million annual price, while MetLife’s agreement with the NY Giants and NY Jets (NFL) costs $19 million per year.
This is a pivotal deal that raises the bar for all future esports deal comparisons while also promoting cryptocurrency and opening the door for TSM to engage in new business opportunities. That said, all eyes will be on this deal for some time to come, as investors and others in esports will want to know if this truly is a benchmark deal or if FTX is overvaluing TSM.
Forbes reported last year that TSM was worth $410 million; meanwhile, FTX is in the process of raising funds that would push its own value to $20 billion. Many would scoff at a 10-year deal in traditional sports, but in esports (where the future is less certain), a decade is inherently quite risky. For teams, the FTX deal is a welcome sight, as it increases the chances of other crypto firms making large bids at a time when teams are desperate for new revenue streams. Notably, Activision just added crypto to new sponsor categories it’s permitting teams to pursue.
A notable, and immediate, side effect of this deal is also that FTX and TSM receive significant awareness boosts in crypto and esports, respectively. The New York Times broke the news, and mainstream media attention was widespread. TSM could use the boost, as Interpret’s Esports Replay™ shows the club trailing other esports orgs for fan following in the US with 11% of esports viewers as TSM fans, placing just outside the top 10 and behind leaders like G2 Esports (18%), Cloud9 (18%), and Team Liquid (17%).