Esports the wave of the future as participation outstrips established Aussie sports

Interest and participation in esports is already outstripping sports such as golf, horse racing and netball and will soon able to compete with cricket, the head of sports and entertainment marketing at Gemba has predicted.

At the Mumbrella Sports Marketing Summit session on the esports revolution, Andrew Condon said that marketers needed to get the rapidly-growing sector on their radar as a channel for their brands.msms2016 esports

With games such as League of Legends now boasting millions of players and viewers around the world, he said that more than 700,000 people in Australia were already actively engaged in esports.

“Esports is the same size as netball, the same size as golf, the same size as cycling and, fitting that we are here at Randwick, the same size as horse racing,” Condon said.

“It has significant momentum when most sports are flat or in decline.

“In Australia there are 1.5m esports fans and those are people telling us they are highly-engaged in esports. Esports is a third of the size of cricket.”

Condon said that esports skewed strongly to young males – a hard to reach but powerful audience. “They are watching about 8.8 hours of esports content a week,”Condon said, citing an event in Germany last year that displayed the potential of esports already being tapped by some companies.

“The Dota2 International from Germany last year. One weekend, four events, 100,000 attendees and over 50m viewers. To put that into context, the Rugby World Cup was on two months later in Europe and this event here engaged more 18-24-year-old males than the Rugby World Cup.”

Multiplayer online battle arena Dota2 International had a bigger audience of 18-24 males than the 2015 Rugby World Cup

Multiplayer online battle arena Dota2’s International in Germany had a bigger audience of 18-24 males than the 2015 Rugby World Cup

Nick Vanzetti, managing director of the Electronic Sports League (ESL), said esports had reached a critical mass over the past five years.

“We are in the era now of digital natives, people are growing up with an iPad in front of them at two years old,” Vanzetti said.

“They know exactly how to use technology and embrace it and the sheer number of people who are, by proxy, playing games has just grown exponentially. But one of the biggest critical factors was the advent of platforms for distribution for watching competitive games.”

He said the arrival of Twitch had broadened the horizons of how many people could watch sports, free from paywalls or other restrictions.

Scott Wenkart ceo spiral media

Wenkart: 720,000 people watch esports on the Twitch platform in Australia every month

Scott Wenkart, CEO of Spiral Media, said the passion people had for games was extending into wanting to see games played at the highest level.

He said on Twitch in Australia about 720,000 people were watching esports on the platform every month. While the sector was ripe to become a platform for sponsors, the panelists warned that brands need to take time to understand esports or risk alienating fans.

Professional esports announcer from Riot Games, Jake Tiberi, said the field was open. “I think (big brand sponsorship) depends on what the brand is and how appropriate they are,” Tiberi said. “It really is intertwining two brands together.”

He said if a brand like Telstra were to consider the space it would have to speak to the audience and see how open it was to the brand before taking the plunge.

Riot already has partnerships with Red Bull, LG and Logitech which, he said, were working because they were closer to the space than more mainstream brands.

“Its about finding the right partnership, not just for us but for (the sponsor) as well.”


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