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Digital, Future Trends, Governance, Sport Business | Oct 4, 2017
Trolls, outsiders, diversification and more.

Day two of Leaders Week saw two more sector-specific forums run back-to-back. The second, Esports Live, sought to get inside the emergent competitive gaming sector, revealing the opportunities and the obstacles for a broader sports industry audience. With the help of Leaders’ man on the ground Jeffrey Liang, we bring you some of the standout insights.

1. Levelling-up in sponsorship

What do you call it when 1+1+1 =¬†5?¬† If you answered with “synergy,” then¬†business schools¬†around the world¬†are feeling proud.¬† Akshay Khanna, VP of Strategy at the Philadelphia¬†76ers, revealed¬†one¬†of his critical learnings¬†from observing his organisation¬†sell to¬†sponsors¬†across a variety of sports properties.¬†Every¬†esports¬†title offers access to a¬†different¬†gaming¬†audience,¬†so expanding an esports team to compete across multiple titles¬†offers brands a critical mass of “coverage” in the world of esports.¬†The key to unlocking the next level of sponsorship¬†may very well be in diversification.¬†Jordi Roig, Chief Commercial Officer of the Astralis team, added that a second key pillar¬†to growth will be further professionalisation of the teams. They‚Äôll advance, he said, when they begin to learn how to talk data as well as industry speak.¬†Here,¬†again, business schools around the world are feeling proud.

2. Trolls will be trolls

Hewlett Packard‚Äôs Consumer Marketing Lead Yvonne Hobden reminded us to always speak authentically¬†– lest the trolls on Twitch roast your brand alive. She shared how HP learned this lesson the hard way, by¬†originally “putting too much product” in one of their campaigns.¬†Today she¬†advises brands looking to advertise in¬†the space to¬†design a campaign that also¬†authentically pushes the esports agenda forward.¬†Nicolai Sonderby Knudsen, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft, added¬†his own nugget of insight:¬†esports has value to brands¬†beyond just reaching¬†the hardcore gaming audience.¬†Just look at¬†Microsoft, who adeptly built a content piece¬†around a family¬†that bonded over esports,¬†a message¬†which resonated tremendously among mothers who¬†yearn for¬†a better understanding of “what their child is up to when he’s locked up in his room gaming.”¬†¬†That’s the¬†power of esports to unite!

3. Get the picture

Introducing someone to¬†esports¬†for the first time can be an uphill battle.¬† One of the most common questions outsiders ask is, “who would ever watch this stuff?”¬†¬†Brendan Donohue, Managing Director of the new NBA 2K League, has a thought-provoking response to this¬†question. Rewind ten years, he says, and who would have¬†imagined that popular mainstream¬†television in the coming decade would revolve around¬†watching a regular couple browsing around a flea market or searching for their next rental property to flip?¬†¬†Turns out¬†expertise¬†is a key ingredient to the types of content audiences find appealing.¬†Esports is a goldmine¬†for this kind of¬†entertainment, with an¬†added¬†layer of¬†competitiveness¬†sprinkled on top to boot.

4. Whose responsibility is it anyway?

With an industry growing as fast as esports has, it’s important to ensure the proper governance and oversight is¬†put in place.¬†Major issues on the table¬†for esports¬†include¬†PED’s, match-fixing, unpaid salaries,¬†and publicised player misconduct.¬†What’s the best¬†solution?¬† The speakers from our fourth panel session¬†all agreed – success in esports¬†governance can only arise from a¬†collaborative effort by publishers, leagues, tournaments, teams, and players collectively.¬†Getting there will¬†of course be rocky, but the talk, at least, is being talked.

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