Tag Archives: Esports
A communications consultancy dedicated exclusively to the esports market is launching today. The Story Mob, co-founded by Nicola Piggott (former lead of esports communications at Riot Games), Anna Rozwandowicz (former VP of Communications at ESL), and Kalie Moore (former head of communications at BITKRAFT Esports Ventures), have a combined 12 years in shaping how the world views esports.
The aforementioned BITKRAFT Esports Ventures is also investing in the new operation.
With an diverse client list at launch, including global esports teams Team Liquid and Fnatic, energy drink Red Bull, and VC firm, BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, DOJO Madness and streaming service Split Media Labs, The Story Mob is hoping to provide counsel to both endemic esports brands and those looking to enter the space. And what stands out the most is that there are 3 females in charge in an industry that is known to be dominated by males.
I spoke with the founders to get some insight as to why they left their former jobs to get involved in this exciting startup.
Why is a communications consultancy needed in the esports industry?
Nicola: Clear and consistent communications strategies have typically been an afterthought for the esports industry. We believe that esports fans are the most valuable fan community in the world, but that reaching them with authentic and credible communications is almost impossible without a first hand knowledge of their hopes, concerns and passions. That’s where we can help.
In today’s PR/comms landscape, there’s a gap in the market for a firm that relates directly to esports fans and dedicates all their resources to helping brands speak to them successfully. With over a decade’s experience working with the largest esports communities in the world, we believe that we can be part of designing a future where brands and companies can offer them more value and, in turn, understand them better.
What do you think esports needs to improve when it comes to communications?
Anna: Newer brands entering the space need to commit to more than slapping a logo on a lower third or retweeting winner congratulations – they need to talk to the fans with humor and humility, and offer value.
For teams and competitive brands within the esports space, there are different challenges. We work with clients on making communications timely, transparent and authentic. In a fast moving industry, bumps will happen along the road, but fans need to trust your values and intentions through it all.
Why did you raise money?
Kalie: I’ve been involved in the startup scene/venture capital world for six years, and I’m aware of the stats. Only 2.2% of VC funding went to female founding teams in 2017, which is an insanely low stake. We knew that a communications consultancy isn’t a traditional VC business, but at the same time, we are aware of the value of having the right strategic partners in your corner.
Jens Hilgers, the Managing Partner at BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, was my introduction to esports. After an initial meeting to discuss BITKRAFT’s communication strategy, he invited me to attend IEM Katowice. On the drive from Berlin to Poland he shared the entire history of esports, and after spending two days at the event, I was hooked. I’m incredibly grateful to Jens for his introduction to esports, and also for giving me a seat at the table when it came to meeting other executives in the space. We are also proud to be BITKRAFT’s first investment in an all female founding team.
The world’s top competitive video gamers are facing off in China over the next few weeks for the League of Legends 2017 World Championship, one of the premier tournaments in the fast-growing world of esports.
Hosted by Riot Games, the company that makes the popular League of Legends (LoL) online game, the tournament’s early rounds turned in a fair amount of excitement and upsets, though last year’s champion is still standing. The Korean professional esports team SK Telecom T1 remains a favorite in a field that also features teams like Samsung Galaxy (sponsored by the South Korean electronics giant) and the North American team Cloud 9.
If none of those names ring a bell, then the rapid ascension of esports has likely passed you by. Competitive gaming’s popularity around the world has exploded in recent years, and the esports industry is now expected to generate more than $ 1.5 billion in annual revenue by 2020, according to one estimate.
Meanwhile, major professional sports teams like the New York Yankees and Cleveland Cavaliers are throwing money at esports, while tech giants like Amazon and Google compete to lure gaming fans to stream live gameplay and competitions on their digital video platforms, Twitch and YouTube, respectively. Last year, Riot Games (which is owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent) signed a reported $ 300 million streaming rights deal with Walt Disney’s BAMTech, and this year’s LoL world championship tournament is available for streaming around the world on Twitch and YouTube.
The influx of media rights deals has also opened the door for a range of high-profile corporate sponsors, with Riot Games landing sponsorships in recent years from the likes of Acer Gaming, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, and Mercedes-Benz.
This week Fortune caught up with Jarred Kennedy, the co-head of esports at Riot Games, to discuss the world championship (the finals will take place Nov. 4 at the Bird’s Nest National Stadium in Beijing) as well as the overall growth of the esports industry and Riot’s plans, much like rival Activision Blizzard, to remodel its own esports league after major professional sports leagues like the NFL and NBA.
The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Fortune: What are some of the big storylines fans will be following heading into the quarterfinals of the LoL World Championships this weekend?
Kennedy: Where to begin? We’ve got some great teams that have made it through. Lots of regions are still alive. You’ve got your defending champions, SK Telecom T1, where they always are, which is contending. But, you’ve got teams that are potentially going to give them a run for their money. I think if [Chinese team] Royal Never Give Up and SK Telecom T1 wind up meeting in the semifinals in Shanghai that could be incredible. Honestly, any of the match-ups with the teams we have right now are going to be really fun to watch, because they’ve all proven themselves to get to this stage. And, the competition just keeps getting better and better the deeper we get into the tournament. That’s one of the reasons that worlds is so compelling.
How has the media rights aspect of the esports business expanded in recent years for Riot?
I think what you’re seeing is the maturation of our sport. With esports, I wouldn’t say it’s entered the mainstream, but it is increasingly an option that marketers look to. And, that’s great for us, because what we’re trying to do is build up the overall ecosystem, and having those increases in revenue coming in on that side allows us to invest in the professional players, the teams, and it allows these players to make a career out of this in a really meaningful way.
That leads into the bigger question of the esports industry’s overall growth trajectory. What are the areas of business that you think are most ripe for increasing revenue in the industry?
There are lots of different pools of revenue. Big ones would include media rights, which not unlike the NFL, NBA, or the Premier League, media rights are a large driver. For some games, including ours, there’s in-game content, and that’s something that’s unique to esports, as opposed to stick-and-ball or traditional sports, where there’s an opportunity for teams to participate in some of the in-game revenue streams. I think those are probably the biggest ones, but we’re always on the lookout for new ways to engage with fans of our sport.
You used to work at Sony Pictures Television. Would it benefit esports to make that leap to being more of a presence on traditional TV networks?
We don’t feel the need to go to TV as a point of validation. We’ve found that a lot of our fans of this sport are online, they tend to consume digitally, and thus the BAMTech deal and some other things we’ve done—negotiations with Twitch, YouTube, etc.—is just to serve them where they are. But, we’re not looking to be on NBC at 8 p.m. on a Saturday broadcasting to all of America, because we don’t think that’s where our fans want to watch, and we think it would probably be casting too wide of a net.
Why model Riot Games’ North American League of Legends Championship Series league after major professional sports leagues with revenue-sharing and a players association?
We’ve always looked at professional sports, not because we want to model exactly what other sports do, but even when you’re attempting to innovate, sometimes there are things that already exist in the world that work really well and work for a reason, and we shouldn’t be afraid to use some of that. Our goal is to have sophisticated owners of teams that can operate at a high level, know how to build businesses, know how to build sports, and who aren’t going to be working against each other, but are going to be collaborating in the best interests of fans around the world.
Going back to your point about esports not yet being in the mainstream, what needs to happen to put esports on the same level as one of the major professional sports leagues?
It takes time to get to the scale of where major sports are today, and I don’t think we have any illusions that we’re going to be able to do that overnight. We do have the advantage of being a digital property that tends to grow faster and can grow more virally. Friends tend to bring their friends into the sport, we found. We’re looking to build the best ecosystem for our fans that we can and we hope that by doing that it will thrive and grow, and over time we’ll have a chance to be as big as some of the major sports that exist today. But our primary goal is delivering value to fans day in and day out. And, if we can do that, then the rest will take care of itself.
Curiously absent in the recent and gigantic uptick of eSports enthusiasm in America, are sports video games. League of Legends’ world championship sold out the Staples Center and drew more viewership than The Masters in 2o13, but games such as Madden, FIFA and NBA 2K have not yet begun to approach that level of attracting spectators.
Big companies are starting to see a lot of potential to make money in esports.
A day after DraftKings announced it’s expanding into esports next month with daily-fantasy games for League of Legends, competitor FanDuel is doing the same through an acquisition. The company has purchased the daily-fantasy startup AlphaDraft, which debuted earlier this year to provide a FanDuel-like experience for multiplayer online arena battlers and shooters. We’ve heard rumors of this acquisition for a few weeks — although AlphaDraft was also hearing offers from Yahoo Fantasy and even DraftKings.
Fantasy sports is a multibillion-dollar business, and daily fantasy is pushing that revenue to record highs. At the same time, the popularity of pro gaming is on the rise — and so are its earnings. FanDuel and DraftKings obviously both see this as an opportunity to get in on the ground level of what could turn into a mammoth industry over the next decade.
Former NBA Commish David Stern tells me that FanDuel has acquired @AlphaDraft, which he is invested in
— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) September 24, 2015
As we pointed out in our story yesterday about DraftKings’ esports ambitions, this acquisition by FanDuel is likely a move to ensure its revenues have a market that it can grow into.
Traditional sports are massively popular right now — professional football in particular has probably never had the level of engagement that it has today. But concerns around the safety of contact sports, along with a generation of parents who are trying to grind their children into superstar with the 10,000-hour rule, has youth participation in sports like football, soccer, and basketball noticeably falling off.
If research keeps revealing that football and other physical activities will lead to brain disease, interest in these sports could erode with the participation levels over the next 10 to 20 years. And that’s where the rise of esports could make up the difference.
Tens of millions of people have tuned in to watch events like the finals for Counter-Strike, Dota 2, and League of Legends. Every competitive-gaming genre is seeing year-over-year growth in terms of viewership. Marketers and sponsors have already taken notice, and that has the esports business on a trajectory to reach more than $ 465 million in revenue by 2017. But fantasy esports could have the potential to push this market to $ 1 billion and well beyond.
Powered by VBProfiles
Strategic alliance marks FanDuel’s entry into the rapidly growing fantasy eSports market
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–September 24, 2015–
FanDuel Inc. (www.fanduel.com), the largest one-day fantasy sports operator, today announced it has acquired leading fantasy eSports platform, AlphaDraft. Marking its entry into the fantasy eSports market, FanDuel will leverage the partnership to enhance and expand core product offerings in order to further reach new sports fans while maximizing engagement.
With the best talent in the sports tech industry, FanDuel’s acquisition of AlphaDraft, the premier daily fantasy sports platform that seamlessly blends eSports, live streaming and fantasy sports contests, will bring the company’s employee base in-house to help create a one of its kind daily fantasy product specifically for eSports. This partnership marks the first time FanDuel will have a product for the eSports community.
“With over 200 million people globally watching eSports, AlphaDraft gives those fans a way to engage with this burgeoning entertainment product that creates an enormous opportunity for us,” said Nigel Eccles, CEO and Co-founder, FanDuel. “This is sports for a new demographic, with very little crossover with what are considered traditional sports fans, and this acquisition gives us the ability to leverage the expertise of AlphaDraft’s team, while helping their efforts in customer acquisition and building awareness of this new industry. It’s a win-win.”
The acquisition of AlphaDraft continues FanDuel’s long-term strategy of acquiring top talent around the fantasy sports industry as it builds one of the finest fantasy products for players – all designed to enhance the sports experience. This comes on the heels of the acquisition of numberFire, the premier next generation sports analytics platform, and Kotikan, a leading mobile app developer.
“It is clear that FanDuel is committed to the fan community,” said Todd Peterson, CEO of AlphaDraft. “This pairing creates an incredible opportunity to drive the fantasy industry forward and create compelling products that will enhance all fan engagement.”
Investors in AlphaDraft to date include former NBA Commissioner David Stern, Melo7 Tech Partners, Metamorphic Ventures, WME, Upfront Ventures, IDG Ventures, Greycroft Partners, Freestyle Capital, KEC, Amplify.LA and others. eSports generated $ 612m in revenue last year and 13% of all live stream viewers are watching eSports. By 2017, the number of eSports fans is projected to come close to that of American football.
FanDuel is the leading daily fantasy sports provider with the sole mission of making sports more exciting. Founded in 2009, FanDuel has redefined fantasy sports; offering a multitude of one-day game options for NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and college football and basketball, with new public and private leagues forming daily, ranging in size from two to thousands of players. FanDuel is the Official Partner of the NBA and has multiple deals with NFL and NBA teams, driving fan engagement, hosting numerous live events and creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for sports fans throughout the year. Based in New York City with offices in Los Angeles, Orlando, Edinburgh and Glasgow, FanDuel has raised $ 363 million in funding from investors including KKR, Google Capital, Time Warner/Turner Sports, Shamrock Capital, NBC Sports Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Pentech Ventures, Piton Capital and Bullpen Capital.
Founded in 2014, AlphaDraft is the premier online platform that seamlessly blends the highly popular worlds of eSports, live streaming and fantasy sports, with daily and weekly contests for cash and other real-world prizes. Members draft a new team every day without season-long commitments, and play against friends and other fans without having to create their own fantasy leagues. There is no purchase necessary to register, and AlphaDraft offers both free and paid contests. For more information, please visit www.AlphaDraft.com or follow us on Twitter at @AlphaDraft.
View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150924006288/en/