The Esports Celebrity has Arrived

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Driven by Generation Z, the popularity of gaming and Esports has dramatically risen in the past few years. On average, this demographic actively plays or watches Esports for an hour and half a day; be it on mobile devices, tablets, or home console entertainment systems. For teens, gaming is something that they do with their friends. It’s an activity that helps build social capital and the camaraderie closely resembles many of the reasons why adults get together to play sports.  

As these communities grow and develop on platforms like Twitch and YouTube, it’s given rise to a new form of celebrity ­– the gaming streamer. Personalities like Ninja are gaining a massive following by mastering popular games such as Fortnite and streaming their live gameplay. The ability to narrate and interact with fans during the game provides them with a unique relationship that’s native to live streaming.  

This popularity doesn’t just stop at live streaming. Professional Esports teams are gaining massive followings with the eight largest organizations being valued at over $100 million. Viewership of these events is on par with that of the NFL and NBA, many of which, not-surprisingly, own their own Esports organizations.

Implications  

Brands that are looking to capitalize on the success of Esports and reach a younger demographic need to first ask themselves a question. Do you want to market to gamers or do you want to build a relationship with gamers? If you simply want to market to gamers, there are tons of media channels to execute against to get your brand front and center.  

Creating a relationship with gamers means going deeper than that. Brands that are able to create relevant content that’s catered towards improving the gameplay experience of their target audience have done well in achieving their goal. For example, the NFL did not simply sponsor Fortnite, they struck a deal with them to allow gamers to dress their avatars as their favorite NFL athletes.


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