Trading Gold Medals for $20Million
What better way to kick things off than to talk about breaking record’s. You might not have noticed, but one of the biggest sporting events in the world was going on the past two weeks and it wasn’t the Olympics. Welcome to the phenomena that is The Internationals 6 (TI6).
For those of you who aren’t current viewers, TI6 is Valve’s crescendo of Dota 2 tournaments, held annually in Seattle, which brings together the top teams globally to compete for a prize pool of just over $20 MILLION USD.
Yes, you read that correctly.
16 teams of 5 pitted their considerable skills against each other in the main stage, in the hopes of winning a prize pool bigger than the Superbowl, Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon. Its also the biggest eSports prize pool in history, but wont be a one off.
WHY IS TI6 IMPORTANT FOR ADVERTISERS?
In the midst of arguably the biggest sporting event in the world, the Olympics, a completely opposite sport managed to undercut viewership with an entire demographic. And Olympic organisers were rightfully scared. Earlier this year several nations banded together in hopes to draw some of this audience back to RIO with the RIO EGAMES initiative but have been largely unsuccessful.
Gamers the world over were turning off their TV’s and switching to their phones, tablets and PC’s to watch an unlikely mix of athletes compete with keyboard and mouse in place of javelins and lycra. Although their might be some of that being worn in Seattle also.
And its not just a few either. TI6 expected to have over 70 million+ viewers globally (official numbers have yet to be released). Here in Australia gamers are one of the highest viewers per internet user. So whilst the boomers were battling against the USA in the basketball for medals, thousands were streaming the match between two underdog teams, Digital Chaos and Wings, to see who would take out the cup for $8.8 million, whist the loser only gets $3.2 million (Spoiler alert, Wings won)
And this is just the beginning. This week Valve has claimed viewership is at an all-time high, whilst it competes against the Olympics. This is a huge feat. Not only is eSports competing against the Olympics for audiences, its succeeding (in terms of growth). What TI6 shows clients is that passion point entertainment, particularly eSports, is now fragmenting traditional sporting audiences.
TI6 also highlights how traditional media like television is going to be under increasing pressure moving forward as traditional broadcasting rights don’t exist in the world of eSports. Valve produce the tournament, create a broadcast themselves then allow complete free access to anyone in the world. There is no illegal viewership. There are no deals which force users to pay for content. There aren’t even any major brand sponsorship’s in a traditional sense.
But surely eSports doesn’t have the mass appeal of traditional sports right? Well according to NewZoo’s global report, over 40% of all eSports viewers don’t even play the game. They are just spectators and they are loving it.
SO HOW DOES YOUR BRAND REACH THIS AUDIENCE?
Well for our part, YKM has invested in building a stronger Australian eSports community through locally produced content on sites like Ausgamers and Stevivor, which has led to creating an entirely new audience group composed of both gamers and the wider enthusiasts. We are bringing together the 2.3 million gamers we reach each month with more connected eSports opportunities.
For early adopter advertisers this has shown huge increase in both digital engagement rates, where audiences see that brands can work as enablers in this market. Here Australia’s distance works for us in the advertising sphere where audiences feel excited by non-gaming brands entering the market and both legitimizing their passion and enabling more opportunities and content. Once again its paying for brands to follow the money.
We have lots more to say around eSports, so if your mind is hungry with questions feel free to hit us up on firstname.lastname@example.org