Esports is expected to reach a value of $1 billion before 2020 (
). The rapid rise of the professional gamer and the subsequent creation of teams and leagues have moved esports from gaming to a classic sports model, mirroring the established methods used by the world’s biggest football, soccer, baseball and basketball teams.
take an overview look at esports licensing and see how sports licensing model has inspired, if not been adopted by, the industry.
In-channel product placement, ambient branding, graphic overlays and shout-outs to brands bolster collaboration and sponsorship, but also make way for pro gamer consumer products.
partnered to create vinyl figures of gamers with an esports twist, allowing collectors to download the app and battle figures online.
and its parent company
earned $29 million through tournaments alone, and it now lists Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson among its shareholders. The NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers have invested in local esports team
. Patriots owner Robert Kraft purchased Overwatch League team
can attribute its $37 million funding rounds to NBA players Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala and NFL player Steve Young.
The most direct way to get in the game for nongaming companies is to collaborate on team kits and influence a team’s brand identity. Earlier this year,
, and brands such as the
have partnered with team Cloud9 to help esports reach a wider culture of viewer, with 90 percent of young viewers able to remember a nongaming brand seen via esports involvement (
What’s more, games are now finding two dichromatic categories themselves, with titles such as “Apex Legends” befitting the esports market and “Fortnite” consumer products still rating high with gaming audiences. This new channel of commercial interest is also giving developers a new lease to create DLC content, add in new methods to gaming and, with a global audience in mind,
Multiplayer sports and esports crossovers with traditional sports are creating leagues in their own right, with FIFA (eWorld Cup), NBA (NBA2K League), Formula 1 (F1 Esports Series) and many more using esports as wider brand extensions through league platforms. A major esports star is predicted to be the focus of a Nike TV ad campaign in 2021, around the same time esports is pegged to beat tennis and rugby in terms of viewers (
Learning from the Best
Major League Basesball brought in an estimated $5.5 billion in licensed retail sales in 2018; the National Footbal League earned an estimated $3.5 billion and the NBA earned an estimated $3.3 billion, according to
Top 150 Global Licensors report.
Thanks to the massive amount of brand licensing potential and the rapidly growing audience of an unfathomable scale that the esports industry can adopt, this isn’t a case of screen watching, or copying a classic sports model, but a brand licensing identity that reflects sports due only to its similar potential.
Read more about:
Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes, it’s completely free.