Machinima, the multi-channel network known for its gaming and fandom content, came to the NewFronts to emphasize that the gaming vertical isn’t just, well, fun and games.
In fact, as part of its presentation on May 6, Machinima hosted an onstage panel to highlight the staggering numbers — hundreds of millions of views, and billions of dollars — surrounding the e-sports industry.
“We wanted the NewFronts this year to be much more insightful,” Don Reilley, VP and head of brand partnerships, told StreamDaily in an earlier interview. “As we all know, e-sports is in the press a lot. It’s on the mind of a lot of agencies and brands out there. We really want to highlight what this industry is about.”
Panelists included Craig Levine, CEO of ESL/Turtle Entertainment America, Craig Barry, EVP of Turner eLeague, Joost Van Dreunen, CEO of SuperData Research, Jesse Wofford, digital sports marketing manager for Bud Light at Anheuser Busch, Mike Sepso, SVP of Activision Blizzard and Alex Rodriguez, host of Machinima’s Inside E-Sports.
For those unfamiliar with the difference between e-sports and gaming, gaming content tends to be more general, focused on “let’s-play” walkthrough videos, reviews, unboxing and parodies. E-sports focuses more on actual gameplay, which is often live-streamed, and usually focuses on highly strategic games like StarCraft, Dota (pictured) and League of Legends. For fans, it’s not much different than traditional sports — including the fact that the players and tournaments often attract big-name sponsors like Red Bull.
While e-sports have always played a key part in Machinima’s content landscape (in a previous interview with StreamDaily, CEO Chad Gutstein compared the exploding popularity of the genre to the Best New Artist award at the Grammys, “but the Best New Artist has been around for 14 years and has four albums out already”), the network has recently begun to expand its focus on the vertical, launching a new content franchise, the daily series Inside e-Sports.
When you look at the numbers, it’s unsurprising that Machinima has ramped up its e-sports content. According to research by SuperData, more than 188 million people will watch e-sports this year, and by 2020 the global audience for e-sports is expected to grow to 302 million. The current global market for the vertical is estimated at $910 million (up 19% year-over-year), but within the next three years is expected to pass the $1 billion mark. It’s still most popular outside of North America, with just over one-third of the market coming from Asia, followed by North America ($276 million) and Europe ($266 million).
Reilley said the numbers are obviously attractive to the brands, who know they want to latch on to something big — it’s just a matter of knowing how to understand the complexities of the vertical.
“(Brands) are seeing the headlines, they know that is a big aspect of what millennial audiences are interested in, especially among the male, 18 to 34 segment, (and) it’s our job to better educate them (about e-sports),” said Reilley. “But the brands that we’re talking to really don’t know how they want to get into this space.”
Reilley said there are many possibilities for brand integration in e-sports, such as brand integration, pre-roll and mid-roll and sponsorship of tournaments.
Aside from the e-sports focus, Machinima also revealed its new in-house creative agency, Mach-1. The agency will focus on marketing strategy for brands that focuses on e-sports and gaming culture, and will provide them with opportunities for influencer partnerships, and insights into the staggering numbers of the gaming and e-sports verticals.
With files from Darah Hansen
Darah is currently in New York attending the NewFronts. If you would like to arrange a meeting with her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.