There have been hundreds of new eSports sponsorship agreements secured over the past two years, and most of them have come from the IT/computer industry. More than half of the eSports sponsorships are from the IT/computer space, according to Nielsen Market Intelligence. The other industries include retail outlets, online services, non-alcoholic drinks brands and online media companies.
The industry has come on in leaps and bounds since the times when only giant brands like McDonald’s and Red Bull were testing the eSports waters, back in 2014.
The types of sponsorship in eSports vary from brands opting to associate with specific eSports teams, to others choosing to align with tournaments and events, as well as different broadcast platforms. These sponsorship agreements involve more than just endemic brands. Companies in the automotive, personal care/finance, food/beverage and lending industries are becoming more actively engaged in endorsing eSports.
Funnily enough, there is a general assumption that fans of eSports dislike the encroachment of sponsors into the space, and that this is a serious problem for the industry as a whole. The data, however, would suggest otherwise. The first fan report by Nielsen eSports resulted in 50-60% of respondents giving favourable responses to the involvement of brands in events and livestreams, while fewer than 10% of fans responded negatively.
Nevertheless, there is an upward trend in resistance to brand activity that isn’t endemic, with the French in particular feeling it isn’t appropriate. However, despite them not being truly endemic to the industry, brands from the technology, energy drink and snack food sectors are most commonly embraced as potential sponsors after the companies that are endemic; probably because they are such big factors of the eSports experience.
For sports titles, around half of the sponsorship actually appears in-game. This enables sponsors to have their logos appear in the eSports environment in the most authentic way possible. Roughly 20% of the brand exposure for sponsors in sports games comes from mentions by broadcasters and apparel.
Nielson announced its launch of Nielsen eSports in August of 2017, aimed at providing valuations of sponsorship, custom industry research, fan insights, consultancies for rights holders, brands and media platforms in the industry of competitive video gaming. Since then, Nielsen eSports has delivered on its pledge to make fan insights available free of charge. The information it provides spans the markets of the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France.