eSports: Global reach attracts sponsors

To kick off DreamHack Leipzig, 180 representatives from sponsorship, sports and business met at the eSport.Business.Forum for an intensive knowledge transfer. The congress presented the current developments in the rapidly growing industry. Sponsoring in eSports, for example, is increasingly becoming a must-have, even for the big players.

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The turnover in eSports is growing rapidly. It has almost doubled in the last two years alone. Industry experts expect up to 130 million euros in sales in Germany this year. Large companies are increasingly investing in eSports. Game developers and organizers know how much turnover can be made with electronic sports. Global reach with worldwide fans attracts sponsors. Nevertheless, only a few of the congress visitors held their hands up in the air when the question was put to the audience as to which of them had already been to an eSports event. The industry is highly interesting, but eSport has not yet arrived in the middle of the economy. The third edition of the eSport.Business.Forum offered 180 representatives from business, sports and sponsorship the opportunity to learn first-hand about the potential of electronic sports.

There is still time to invest

eSports have already arrived in society. According to a recent study by Nielsen, 33 percent of 16 to 29-year-old Germans are interested in computer sports. According to the study, this target group is very lucrative. So far, however, it is mainly electronics and technology brands that advertise in this environment, thus the so-called endemic brands. However, non-endemic brands are increasingly pushing into the market. "As a sponsor of eSports today, you are no longer the mega-first mover. But you are not running behind the development yet," said Michael Heina, Head of eSports Europe Nielsen. The study also shows that eSports fans are very positive about sponsorship.

Mercedes Benz has also been using this for over two years. Mercedes turned its back on football a long time ago. The car manufacturer prefers to focus on eSports. After its commitment as an ESL mobility partner, the Swabians were the first car manufacturer to invest in an eSports team. Recently, SK Gaming has been wearing the star on its jersey. "Sponsorship is well received in the community," also confirms Gunnar Schrage from Daimler. The strategy, he says, lies in the brand not just relying on a broad logo presence. Mercedes lets the eSports fans have their say on the social media channels. "We have learned that with this target group, less is often more," Schrage said. You have to listen to the target group and respond sensitively to the young fans.

Innovations for eSports from Germany

If Robert-Maximilian Fankhänel of Hologate has his way, eSports will soon be on the move. With 200 halls worldwide and 1.2 million players a year, Hologate is the market leader for virtual arcades. The Munich-based company will launch its own VR World Championship this year. Players will compete against each other in halls worldwide in a game developed in-house. "Virtual reality will make an enormous technological leap. We'll manage to get 18 million players through at some point," said Robert-Maxililian Fankhänel.

With Shikenso Eye and vAudience, two German startups were on stage that can use artificial intelligence and algorithms to evaluate eSports chats for sponsors. "We can tell them whether your brand is currently being celebrated or booed by the audience," said Tarik Amhamdi, CEO Shikenso. Thus, for the first time, real objective learnings from the eSports events are possible.

Wide stage for eSports and clear commitment

eSport has also recently been given a broad stage with eSport1, the first eSport TV channel. "eSport is fantastic entertainment that deserves a platform and attention," said Daniel von Busse from Sport1. The channel is intended to help bring eSports to the general population. "We don't see ourselves as a competitor to Twitch, but we will take the topic more towards the mainstream," von Busse said.

The virtual Bundesliga is also pointing the way for eSports. Dominik Hilpisch-Hahn, Head of Licensing and eSport at Bundesliga International, spoke of the league's own "football activity". This makes it clear that the virtual Bundesliga is clearly differentiated from shooter games. According to Hilpisch-Hahn, there is theoretically the possibility of playing other formats, but this is not currently under discussion.

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