By Barry Janoff
March 12, 2017: Of all the situations currently happening in the nation’s capital that defy reality and common sense, there is one strategy that has the potential to actually work.
In what was called a move intended to help Washington DC become the "capital of eSports,” Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, has signed a deal to become an exclusive sponsor for NRG eSports.
The Los Angeles-based organization, which has teams in such platforms as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Smite, Hearthstone, Rocket League and Vainglory, was co-founded by Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov, co-owners of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, and has an investors' roster that includes NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, former MLB star Alex Rodriguez and MLB veteran Jimmy Rollins.
Events DC also has sponsorship deals with teams in eSports platforms including Overwatch.
According to Max Brown, chairman for Events DC, "DC is no longer your grandparent's capital. Each month there are 1,000 new residents in Washington, DC, who are accelerating and becoming part of DC's ongoing transformation by attracting new and exciting events that further position the city on a global stage.
"Through collaborations with organizations like NRG, we are actively working to position ourselves for the future and in the next five to eight years, DC will be positioned to be the capital of eSports,” said Brown.
To support the alliance, NRG said it would promote Events DC across their streaming channels on Twitch and across social media. NRG players would also participate in promotional appearances in conjunction with Events DC.
Events DC said it would support its sponsorship deal "both internationally and domestically in the tech and video game landscape . . . The visibility of (our) logo in the eSports community will underscore the importance of bringing tournaments to the District."
According to Events DC, "As U.S. cities compete to get tourist and visitors, this sponsorship with NRG is an avenue that strongly aligns with the long-term mission and vision of Events DC to further attract existing events and generate heightened tourism and economic activity."
Events DC also has a destination at South x Southwest (now through March 19), The WeDC House at SXSW, which will include eSports panels, demonstrations and top players.
Events DC said that its alliance with NRG was the beginning of what would be a focus on three key areas:
• eSports tourism: Generating direct spending by visitors and locals;
• Industry infrastructure: Development of new jobs and facilities to support various elements, from hosting mega events, to emerging tech to education and training;
• eSports relevance: Strategically aligning cities with a cutting-edge industry that is growing rapidly, attracting mainstream media, sponsors and other partners.
"DC is no longer your grandparent's capital . . . in the next five to eight years, DC will be positioned to be the capital of eSports."
"It's exciting to be on the forefront of an emerging industry and to be able to expand our scope at Events DC to include eSports," Gregory O'Dell, president and CEO for Events DC, said in a statement.
"Our eSports initiative will play a key role in helping to fuel our growth — not only within the District but with an international reach as well. As an innovative city, eSports will continue to position (Washington DC) as a thought-leader that attracts future industries, new revenue and visitors from around the globe," said O’Dell.
eSports is on a significant growth trajectory that is projected to continue for several years, according to industry analysts.
The number of eSports participants globally will reach 58.4 million this year, up from 49.8 million in 2016; the global eSports audience will reach 385 million in 2017, up from about 256 million this past year; and the eSports economy predicted to grow to $696 million in 2017 for year-on-year increase of 41.3%,
Longer-term, eSports revenues will near $1.5 billion by 2020, according to the just released 2017 Global Esports Market Report from research and eSports consulting firm NewZoo, San Francisco.
North America ranks as the largest eSports market, with revenues of $257 million in 2017 and projected to double to reach $607 million by 2020, according to NewZoo.’
Non-endemic brands such as Events DC are driving sponsorship, with deals involving such marketers as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Taco Bell, Buffalo Wild Wings, Slim Jim, Mountain Dew, Bud Light, Domino’s Pizza, Snickers, Ford, Hyundai, Audi, Gillette, Mobile, Axe and Turtle Wax.
Twitter recently partnered with leading eSports companies ESL and DreamHack to live-stream events and original content in 2017, encompassing some 1,500 hours of content.
"Sponsorship is the largest revenue stream and will grow to $655 million by 2020," according to NewZoo. "New brands, especially non-endemic brands, entering eSports will drive the growth in sponsorship revenues in the coming years. Advertising generates the second most revenues and will grow to $224 million by 2020," per the 2017 Global eSports Market Report.
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