In 2004 a movie aired called Dodge Ball, starring Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, and Ben Stiller, that was about a group of local gym owners that enter a dodge ball tournament to save their local gym from the grasp of a giant corporate chain of gyms. At one point in the movie, the tournament was broadcasted on an imaginary ESPN channel called “ESPN 8 The Ocho.” It was a joke highlighting that the oddest of sports find their way onto main stream media and shown to the world. At one point in time E-sports was exactly in the same situation. It was broadcast on ESPN 3, a channel people thought no one ever watched. People often commented saying “How is E-sports a real sport?” Over the past 10+ years, it’s shown the world that it is a real sport, and it’s here for the long haul.
E-sports, short for electronic sports, is an organized form of competitive video game players that compete in live tournaments, with large prize pools of money, and broadcast to the world to see. In my eyes the growth of E-sports has sparked interest in two key categories. First, it’s targeted at but not limited to a very young generation including Millennials and the Generation Z’ers. Secondly, the current main form of broadcasting of E-sports events is online via streaming. The combination of the two opens the doors to not only targeting the upcoming youth consumers in our economy, but also into the digital online space where most companies are taking their advertising efforts.
In 2011, a website was born called Twitch.tv. The site’s primary function is a platform for video game players with a microphone, camera, and streaming computer to live stream their gameplay while commentating and interacting with viewers that are watching their online streams. Twitch states that currently they have over 15 million daily active users that watch their favorite streams on average of 106 minutes per day. Over 2.2 million active content creators share their content. 5% of their streamers make up the largest most loyal fan bases in the community. Twitch provides video advertisements much like TV commercials during their live broadcast. These advertisements help power Twitch and their growth as well as help create income for the major content creator partners that have the largest followings. Yes you heard me, there are actually people making a living off playing videos games. At this point, this should be screaming at you that there’s opportunity to be had on marketing here to this demographic and also in this growing industry.
From this core concept, Twitch has evolved into a video game power house, broadcasting some of the largest tournaments in video game history. In 2013, a popular video game called Dota 2 had its annual “The International” tournament, which at one point had 4.5 million unique viewers with an average watch time of two hours per day. In 2017, a game called Overwatch launched a competitive league that drew in more than 10 million viewers in the first week of launch. Extraordinary numbers for a competitive video game tournament. Overwatch Leauge also has had national sponsors such as Toyota, T-Mobile, Sour Patch Kids, and others join in on the E-sports mania. Teams in the tournament wore jerseys that contained sponsor’s logos while the broadcast also had replays and segments “brought to you by” their major sponsors.
The concept of streaming video games is just an evolved form of how the newer generations are consuming new content they enjoy and grew up on. Video games over the past 20 or 30 years have become a cultural past time and hobby to many around the world. Exploring new worlds, playing out fantasies in unknown realms, and enjoying deep, driven stories that entice and stimulate the human emotions are just small parts of what video games have become. The space has shown exponential growth since its inception not long ago. The mix of streaming online media with the core demographics making up the future of the world’s economy and growth should get you thinking about where you can take your brand and how you can connect with the future of the world. You should start thinking “How long before my marketing efforts and E-sports intersect and how can I grow my brand from it?”