By Barry Janoff
October 8, 2015: Proclaiming that "We made it our mission to elevate and celebrate eSports," Coca-Cola has signed a deal with Internet media company IGN to become title sponsor for eSports Weekly with Coca-Cola.
The 30-minute online vídeo series is scheduled to premiere Oct. 9 on IGN.com (7 PM ET).
IGN said that eSports Weekly with Coca-Cola would also be available via it's channels on mobile devices, video game consoles, and over-the-top streaming platforms.
The series comes with multi-media marketing support, including Internet and social media, with the tag line, "Refreshing news. Celebrating gamers."
“With the advent of online gaming, video games have taken the next step towards becoming the leading national pastime," Peer Schneider, co-founder and GM for San Francisco-based IGN, said in a statement. "We're excited to team up with Coca-Cola to introduce an even bigger audience to the world of professional eSports."
IGN said that it reaches 66.7 million users monthly across owned-and-operated mobile, Web and OTT platforms; has more than 12 million social followers and 7.3 million YouTube subscribers.
Coke has been one of the most active non-endemic brands in eSports, seeking to tie prime demographics of the category with those of its products.
Among the other brands aligned with eSports are Intel, Nissan, Microsoft and T-Mobile.
The number of eSports enthusiasts worldwide has grown from 89.7 million last year to 116 million in 2015, according to gaming research, consulting and marketing firm NewZoo, San Francisco.
eSports revenues totaled $194 million in 2014, are predicted to reach $278 million in 2015 and are estimated to grow to $765 million in 2018, according to The Global Growth of eSports, a NewZoo study released earlier this year and updated last month.
According to Matt Wolf, head of gaming for Coca-Cola, "Over the last few years, we have made it our mission to elevate and celebrate eSports and gaming at large. Coca-Cola’s partnership with IGN will bring an unprecedented level of exposure, recognition and uplift to the industry and community. Coca-Cola and IGN have come together to ignite the passion of eSports’ fans every week by creating and delivering content that has never been done before.”
The Coke-IGN alliance follows a bevy of other recent eSports-related strategies, including:
Turner Sports and WME | IMG formed an eSports league that will be broadcast on TBS in 2016.
DFS platforms DraftKings and Draftpot offering eSports to their users, both tying in with League of Legends.
DFS platform FanDuel acquired AlphaDraft, an online destination that incorporates eSports, live streaming and fantasy sports.
The League of Legends world championship is taking place throughout October, offering a top prize of $1 million. According to game developer and world championship developer Riot Games, more than 11 million viewers watched the 2014 championship "in 19 languages via 40 broadcast partners."
Skillz, a global leader in mobile eSports, recently raised $15 million in Series B funding, led by Wildcat Capital Management. Participating in the round were The Kraft Group, owners of the NFL's New England Patriots; and Marc Lasry, co-owner of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks.
rEvolution, a leading integrated sports marketing and media services agency based in Chicago, launched eSports consultancy, rEvXP, "to serve brands, platforms and players in advancing their respective brand connections with fans." rEvolution's client roster includes Chipotle, Continental Tire, Northwestern Mutual and Polaris ORV.
Sports consultancy firm GMR, a division of Omnicom that includes among its clients Microsoft, is also launching a new unit to focus on eSports.
According to CEO Cameron Parsons, "As millennials continue to trade traditional mediums like television for digital, mobile and social engagement, eSports offers a massive marketing platform authentic to how this consumer audience lives, communicates and pursues their passions."
Tickets for the League of Legends 2015 World Championship Final, taking place on Oct. 31 in Berlin's 17,000-seat Mercedes-Benz Arena, sold out in three minutes, according to GMR.
Parsons said that GMR’s eSports consulting practice would "help brands navigate uncharted opportunities to reach and influence eSports fans, teams, competitors and tournaments.”
eSports Weekly with Coca-Cola will include full recaps of the week’s top headlines from eSports, panel discussions on eSports leagues and tournaments and eSports celebrities, special guests and co-hosts.
eSports Get Boost From Turner, DFS, Investment Deals
Marketing Firm rEvolution Launching eSports Consultancy
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