Who are the Main Sponsors of Esports?
The esports industry has been picking up considerable steam in recent years.
Not only are more and more people taking to their controllers and engaging with
the world of video games, overall viewership is on the rise. With hundreds of
millions of people now actively watching esports streams and events, it only
makes sense that big brands and advertisers are looking to get in on the act.
Why Are Brands Taking Notice?
With more brands taking note of esports, more capital is being thrown behind
the sector. In the past, sponsorship was mainly reserved to a few key companies
and brands, with most sponsorship targeted toward the traditional demographic
of young males. This meant electronics and technology brands made up the bulk
of sponsorship money. However, with esports viewing demographics changing
dramatically in the past few years, sponsor demographics have evolved
accordingly. The overall esports audience is now far more diverse, broadening
out from the committed gamers watching their favorite players and teams
compete in intimate surroundings. Platforms like 1337 Pro make it easy for just
about anyone to follow the progress of esports teams and players, without
requiring advanced insight into the particulars of video gaming or esports
Nowadays, it’s possible for large-scale events to draw in truly global audiences.
With a far more diverse audience engaging with the industry, brand investment
and sponsorship is now driving growth in the esports sector.
Big Revenue Potential
The boom in popularity of esports has been exponential, but it has really picked
up steam in the past few years. In fact, revenues look set to exceed 3.5 billion
US dollars by 2021. Revenues come from a variety of sources, with advertising
and media rights making up a sizable proportion of the income stream. Game
developer fees, merchandising and ticket sales also contribute toward esports
income, but it’s sponsorship that brings the most money to the table. In fact,
more than 40 percent of esports revenues comes from sponsorship. It is also
one of the fastest-growing revenue streams in esports, alongside media rights.
Types of Esports Sponsorship
As with the conventional sporting sector, sponsors of esports events and teams
spend their money wisely. Their sponsorship efforts are always finely aligned
with their individual marketing efforts, although company budgets also play a
factor. Sponsorship can also take various forms. A big brand may decide to focus
sponsorship on an individual player or team, with their audiences proving a
desirable demographic they wish to target. However, other companies may find
it a more rewarding venture to sponsor tournaments or events to reach the most
diverse demographic possible. Even if they sponsor teams and individuals, many
companies will also choose to throw some sponsorship money at events. Again,
this is to secure the broadest reach possible by their sponsorship efforts.
Biggest Esports Sponsors
Let’s take a look at a few big esports events and tournaments to see where the
biggest sponsorship money is coming from. Counter-Strike; Global Offensive is a
staple title of many major esports events, so it’s only to be expected that these
events bring in some of the biggest sponsorship deals. The IEM Masters series is
regularly sponsored by the likes of Acer, Vodafone, Game Fuel and Intel.
StarCraft IEM is also bolstered by sponsorship deals with the same brands, while
the League of Legends North America Championship Series is backed by Red
Bull, MasterCard, Honda and Bud Light. Finally, there’s the Overwatch League.
This premier esports event has not only secured sponsorship from Intel and HP,
but also significant capital from the likes of Coca-Cola.
Future of Esports Sponsorship
Although the esports sector is growing in popularity, the industry will inevitably
face hurdles in the future when it comes to sponsorship. The sector may have
weathered the storm of COVID with audiences happy to engage with viewing
online, but if this trend were to remain a permanent one, it may impact the kind
of investment brands are looking to contribute in the form of sponsorship.
Ultimately however, the main change we are likely to observe is a more diverse
range of brands throwing money at the sector. As viewership increases and
audience demographics diversify, so to will the marketing efforts of brands
interested in capitalizing on esports sponsorship.