Esports offers huge opportunities for brand marketing: Industry experts

At the Esports Summit 2019, industry leaders discuss brand visibility, advertising, merchandising and more

e4m by Priyaankaa Mathur
Updated: Apr 22, 2019 8:52 AM

Esports Summit 2019 organised by Dveo Media in association with Esports Federation of India (ESFI) brought to light the opportunities, challenges and the impact of Esports in the future. The summit, held recently in Mumbai, brought together the various stakeholders from the Esports, Gaming and Entertainment industry.

Esports is bringing a new dimension to the world of sports, video gaming and entertainment industry and this is evident from the fact that the esports industry has already crossed the $1 billion mark in revenue. India is poised to have 250 million gamers, after having won the Bronze in Esports Asian Games 2018, which gives young talented Indian e-sports athletes an opportunity to make it big.

Robert Kalbarczyk, COO Kinguin LANCOM Esports Venues (UK) spoke about the key initiatives to drive esports in India. “The first thing is to provide professional centers for the professional athletes. So the need is that people treat esports as a full-time professional job. It needs recognition from the government to create training centers where people play and practice eight hours a day with professionals to train the athletes."

Talking about the professional opportunities, Kalbarczyk said:  "Esports provides a lot of new jobs that are being created around the new technologies for players, gamers, streamers, data analyst, graphic designers, interpreters or commentators. It's the need of the hour that the younger generation gets assurance for life. Here they are made competitive with the growing global digital market place. Like in Saudi Arabia where the government is investing to give us premises, wherein we are providing the know-how, equipment, and the management to establish esports institutions and arenas. So is the case in France where we are in talks with the government, as they are keen on developing an esports village near Paris that will be leased to us at an affordable price. The Hungarian government is investing 10 million Euros to organise a second tournament  to promote Esports, so we can say that it has a big scope and immense growth opportunities."

On promoting esports in education institutions globally, Kalbarczyk said, “In Poland, we are building educational programmes in schools to educate children at a younger age to develop interest in esports and create awareness about taking gaming as a profession since the players are paid huge amounts. We are trying to develop it in India too."

A panel discussion on ‘Optimizing on Marketing, Merchandising & Advertising Opportunities of Esports’ brought industry experts like Ashwin Haryani, Co-Founder Gaming Monk; Anurag Khurana, Head of Esports – Reliance Jio Infocom; Pranab Punj, Chief marketing Officer, Kinsane Entertainment; Raman Kalra Partner, Leader Entertainment, Media & Sports Advisory PWC and Piyush Choudhary, Director of Sales Indian Subcontinent at Sportradar. They discussed aspects of the esports industry in terms of brand visibilities, advertising and merchandising, content engagements and social media and investment opportunities.

Ashwin Haryani began the session with an insight on the cost of the1-second advertisement during Super Bowl which cost $5.2 million and how the game provided merchandising opportunities to brands. So the question is how do we look at esports as a game changer for monetising brands?

Talking about the numbers and possibilities, Raman Kalra said, "From a brand marketing and a league perspective the opportunities are huge. Today, if we look at the numbers we are talking about 8 million youngsters of this country and the potential of esports followers and building a community is very high. The revenue will come from sponsors, advertisements, media rights, and streaming."

Pranab Punj went back to the days of video gaming a decade ago saying, "If we see 2004, the video games cafes were huge and now they have vanished. What went wrong was that we did not market the games but created a counter-culture around it. The need is to bring it mainstream. We need to build the hardcore game and need more research We need to educate consumers on esports and its prospects for tomorrow."

"Today, we have a lot of gamers, but not much content has been built around it since no one wants to take it and promote gaming. We need to give the youngsters the content to know about the games," Punj added.

Piyush Choudhary drew insights on the digital aspects of esports. "For esports, we need to have very contextual and immersive streaming and videos that provide real-time data for the players to play and explore the medium rather than for fans. Esports has an advantage. It is measurable for marketers because it's all in the cloud, wherein average revenue per fan is the metric on which we have seen 20-30 cents increase."

On investing in esports, Anurag Khurana said, "At Reliance, we are looking at grassroots level college leagues since esports is primarily for this generation, where the merchandise will play a great role."

Talking about social media engagements, Ashwin Haryani said: “Facebook is a great platform which works better for us due to its social media engagement tool called watch party. Today, we have half-a-million views spread across that are more of casual tournaments as a social angle. The regional leagues have helped us localise content over time."

China is the biggest market for esports today and is growing rapidly, as per reports. Out of 2.3 billion players from across the world, 1 billion players come from China. Ninety per cent of youngsters under the age of 35 are playing Games like Fortnight, Counterstrike and League of Legends. In India, the industry is developing, which has a great scope being a huge uncovered market for esports. The games are for free and are played on the mobile phones with a huge consumption in the country. The scenario creates more possibilities for esports to draw more attention from GenNext.

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