Each week we bring you a taste of what is happening around the commercial world of esports. We will focus on advances in the Irish sector when there are some, as well as on some of the commercial deals which are taking place and fuelling the rapid growth of this area within the world of sport.
Today we have the final part of our esports fundamentals series with Colm Roche of Core Sponsorship, a look back on the eLOI Finals, news of the Republic of Ireland team for the FIFA eNations tournament, a new Fortnite series opening for registration today, and a loosening of restrictions on sponsorship of teams.
RYAN OF THE ROVERS EMERGES AS CHAMPION
Tyrone Ryan of Shamrock Rovers has been crowned as the first eLOI Champion after last week’s Finals night.
The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final were all streamed live on the FAI Twitch account at www.twitch.tv/faireland and Ryan emerged the winner in a close final against ‘MrWelly representing Cork City.
Ryan overcame Finn Harps and Bohemian FC en route to the final and he has since been named as part of the Republic of Ireland team to take part in the upcoming FIFA eNations online tournament.
AN INTRODUCTION TO esports
Over a four week period, we have joined forces with Colm Roche who heads up Core Sponsorship’s Gaming division to go right back to basics and explain the what, how, who and why of esports.
In the first three episodes, we have built up a picture of what esports is, and is not, and given a sense of the Irish market and the opportunities that exist. Last week we looked at the make up of gamers here in Ireland and in a global context.
Today we take a look at streaming and the kind of fans that are attracted to watching esports teams and tournaments.
Part Four – The Streamers
A large proportion of Gamers engage with content beyond playing. 94 per cent of Irish Gamers watch some form of gaming content (Statista, Ireland esports research). This content can include engaging with live online streams such as on YouTube or content that is available on demand such as provided by gaming influencers.
Since 2018, there has been significant increases in the number of Irish people engaging with streamed content – Streaming is up 28 per cent over this period, while the number of people who watch others play has risen by a third and the prevalence of people streaming their own games has increased by 24 per cent (TGI Ireland 2020 v 2018). The majority of this streaming content is consumed on mobile or tablet devices.
A recent report by Global Web Index (Millennials-Media & Entertainment 2021) shows that the popularity of spectator gaming varied across age groups.
25-34’s are the most likely to be watching live gaming streams with 16-24’s close behind. 45-64’s are the least likely to engage in streaming activity. It is important to note that research on gaming audiences does not include under 15’s, among whom we believe there is a considerable fanbase for both gaming and streaming.
esports fans are another distinct consumer group from those who engage in spectator gaming, with the overall streaming audience larger than the subset of gamers who view/follow esports across all markets.
esports fans are essentially those who view, attend, or engage with the esports teams and events, much like fans of a football or rugby team. However, while the audience is smaller, a YouGov study found that esports fans are highly attuned to marketing and promotions – often for benefit, but also with discernment.
They know what they like and brands need to be careful not to disrupt their experience.
Within Ireland, this audience segment has grown an estimated 5 per cent since 2018 (TGI Ireland 2020 v 2018) but has been slow due to the lack of infrastructure. Although this audience segment makes up a relatively small percentage of the overall population compared to Gamers, it is growing year on year and has created ample opportunities for brands to engage with quite specific Millennial and Gen Z audiences.
According to NewZoo (Global Esports Market report 2020), the esports audience was expected to grow to 495 million globally in 2020. Esports Enthusiasts will account for 222.9 million of the audience, with global Occasional Viewers hitting 272.2 million in 2020, up 10 per cent from 245.2 million in 2019.
Why brands need to understand their target audience in this realm
What’s important for brands to note is gamers are not a homogenous bloc, we cannot assume they will automatically be interested in – or even familiar with – esports or online streaming.
What type of gamer they are, how they consume content and on what platforms varies across different demographics. Brands need to understand their audience, how to effectively communicate to them and more importantly, how to do it in a way that adds value to their experience. Too often we have seen brands execute a sponsorship activation plan without fan insight, often with dire consequences.
We know when fans make the linkage between a sponsor and property that sponsors enjoy a 30 per cent uplift in commercial metrics, merely from being associated to a property. When goodwill is generated by improving fans’ enjoyment of the property and/or adding value to the property itself in the eyes of the fan, Irish sponsors enjoy a 71% uplift on commercial metrics. (National Sponsorship Index, Core)
EASING OF SPONSORSHIP RESTRICTIONS
Regulation around sponsorship and promotion of esports falls within existing digital media parameters but it is opoften the leagues or the teams that determine what is allowed.
Activision Blizzard, the promoter behind Call of Duty and Overwatch have previously prevented teams who enter their official leagues from having sponsorship related to gambling or alcohol.
Last week though a London team playing Call of Duty were permitted to have esports betting site Midnite named as one of their sponsors and reports suggest that this is the herald of loosening the restrictions.
The UK Government is currently unders=taking a major review of gambling promotion, advertising and sponsorship which may yet call a halt to that side of things before it has barely gotten started. unless of course there is a ‘grandfather’ clause allowing existing sponsorships to run down.
“As a London-based esports betting operator, and huge fans of the team, it’s an honour for Midnite to partner with the London Royal Ravens,” said Sujoy Roy, Marketing Director at Midnite. “We’ve built the best place to bet on the Call of Duty League, and as an esports-first company, we’re proud of all the community features we offer. Our UKGC license means we operate under the world’s strictest betting regulations, to offer players a sager gambling experience. We greatly admire the growth the team has shown over the previous months and we’re ecstatic to join them on this journey forward.”
LEGION FORTNITE SUMMER SKIRMISH OPENS TODAY
If you wanted to experience the tournament process our esports partner Legion esports Series is opening up registrations at 4 pm today for the Fortn=ite Summer Skirmish with a prize pool of €1000.
It will be presented by one of Ireland’s leading streamers The Gara Show, and we will update on the progress of the tournament here once it gets underway on May 31st.
IRISH ESPORTS TEAM NAMED BY FAI
The Republic of Ireland team for the upcoming FIFA eNations online qualifiers has been confirmed with newly-crowned eLOI Champion Tyrone Ryan joined by FAI eCup winner Conran Tobin and wild card pick Eric Finn.
Ryan takes his place on the Ireland team following his final win over Cork City’s Ciaran Walsh in the first ever eLOI Finals Night on Monday. Tobin represents Ireland after winning the inaugural FAI eCup while Finn is currently the number one ranked Xbox player in Ireland.
The Irish team will kick off their preparations for the upcoming FIFA eNations Online Qualifiers on the road to Denmark 2021 with eFriendlies versus top-ranked international teams Poland and Italy before beginning the qualification process on Thursday, May 20.
Speaking ahead of the historic first ever International eFootball matches for an Irish team, FAI eSports Lead Robert Garrigan said: “We wish the players well in their upcoming games. We’re delighted to have assembled a team of the best FIFA21 players from across Ireland and we’re sure that they will do themselves and their country proud over the coming weeks and months.”
Legion Esports, the FAI and Core Sponsorship are all among more than 250+ members of the Sport for Business network of sporting and business organisations working together across a number of key areas.
Sport for Business Partners