eSports and Commercial Strategies


eSPORTS are one of the topics to be addressed nowadays in professional and academic fora which are linked to the sports and entertainment sector.  Within them, no one doubts their importance and repercussions, marked by the millions of users and their presence in the generalist and specialized media. Along with this reality, several questions are raised which can be the subject of numerous debates, brainstorming and potential projects, that remark on their enormous projections.

In this article, I will address some of the questions that I believe can be of interest. With the aim of delving in the eSports sector as a platform por commercial development for those who are considering becoming part of them as a sponsor.

Are eSports part of the sports industry?

From my perspective, the characteristics, entity and socio-economic projection of online video game competitions, define an autonomous sector differentiated from the traditional sports industry. However, it is not completely detached from it. The points in common and synergies are abundant and profitable for both parts at the time of generating value for their users, audiences, and sponsors.

What characteristics define the eSports sector at the time of receiving sponsorship?

It is a digital and global sector, thus the big figures that are dealt within it. It is based on the fast pace of the events, the enormous speed of game dynamics and the adaptability to any user/fan profile.

With a technological origin and base, different competition formats are being created that mimic the sports industry. They have the aim of easily accommodating their sponsors, who occasionally also take the form of team owners, emulating the American model of franchised sports. This is something that brands should take advantage of without a doubt, as it enables them a lot of room for maneuvering which is not seen in other sectors.

Above the competitions, a different profile is found that doesn’t exist in the sports industry, that is, the game owner or Publisher, who has the major relation with the user, as he is a game fan and identifies with one or some players, giving scarce relevance to the club or team. This opens the field for commercial agreements to an entity profile who is “judge and jury” in the sector.

The Return on Investment for eSports sponsorship

According to the experts, there are three different basic paths of return on sponsorship: Brand (visibility and values), Business (sales or other metrics directly related to the sponsor’s business model) and Social Impact (the labor of the sponsor related to their Corporate Social Responsibility). If competition or participant sponsorships are reviewed, it will be seen that approximately 40% of the brands are somehow directly related to the competitions: Telecommunications, hardware, or peripherals, among others. Whereas the rest of the companies who decide to invest, manifest that they do it in a testing mode. They are more interested in the profile of the members of this sector than in the model. Moreover, this investment is an irrelevant percentage of the budget that they devote to advertising, marketing, and communication.

The youthfulness of the sector implies that their organizations have not yet developed all their capacity for value generation for their potential partners and sponsors. Their urgency is found in the competition area above the business, which is logical. This leads to the sponsor being required to be more effective in the activation strategies. Thus, if the books prescribe to invest three euros in activation for every euro invested in sponsorship, I would recommend increasing the line of activation to four euros. This is something that would also increase the knowledge of the dynamics of the industry for future investments.

Are eSports the future of sponsorship?

Despite the enormous social relevance of online video game competitions, their development as an industry is still in an early stage. The regulation, commercialization of areas tangential to the competitions, or the full professionalization of the players are some of the aspects that show that there is still a long way to go.

All these indicators tell us that if you want to get to know how the future of our society is going to turn out, you should look closely at the dynamics of this sector. And if you want to take part in it, do not hesitate, do it now.


Óscar Yáñez – @_oscaryanez

Septiembre 2020


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