Global eSports leagues are attracting a big increase in sponsorship contracts based on viewership and audience demographics. Major leagues like LoL European Championship (LEC), LoL Championship Series (LCS), Overwatch League (OWL), LoL Pro League (LPL) & King Pro League (KPL) have generated more than 33.9 million live viewership hours in 2019 along with Twitch channels viewership generating 26.4 million hours so far.
Top Sponsors and brands have a big opportunity to connect with the audiences, where almost 40% of it are constituted by age groups between 21-35, and with eSports enthusiasts forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 13% over the next 3-year period, the time is right to tap into the vast potential of revenue generating avenues for the brands.
Opportunities for Sponsors/brands involved in the segments of Apparel/Retail, Hardware, Peripheral, Automotive, Telecom, Finance & Payment providers, Food & Beverages, Music, Oil & Gas, Electronics and others are there for the taking, with companies in Apparel/Retail and F&B sector so far being the major sponsors for the leagues, while companies in the remaining sectors catching up in the past year or so.
LoL European Championship (LEC) has a wide range of league-level sponsors like Red Bull in the food and drink category, along with hardware, gaming furniture, and peripheral partnerships with Alienware, DXRacer, and Logitech G, respectively. Foot Locker, KIA, MasterCard are team-level sponsors. Shell, also a sponsor, provides in-game event and gameplay knowledge for the audiences.
LoL Championship Series (LCS) has sponsors involved in the apparel, hardware and gaming furniture segment with We Are Nations, Alienware and Secret Lab representing the segments. Non-endemic sponsorships include MasterCard, State Farm, and Jersey Mike’s. State Farm runs “State Farm Analyst Desk”, the post-match discussion segment at live events.
Overwatch League (OWL) has Coca-Cola as its official beverage sponsor, along with Intel and HP for Hardware, Toyota for automotive, T-Mobile for telecoms, and Spotify for music. Brands like Spotify creates custom playlist’s comprising of team players’ favorite songs.
LoL Pro League (LPL) has Nike as the official apparel sponsor for the entire league, providing apparel and footwear for all teams, players, coaches, and referees. Other sponsors include Alienware (hardware sponsor), Mercedes-Benz (automotive sponsor), KFC & Doritos (food and beverages sponsor), DxRacer (gaming furniture) and L’Óreal (cosmetics). KFC provides an in-game dashboard, giving an estimation for a team winning based on calculating different elements occurring in the game. KFC also provides theme-based meal options at the locations.
King Pro League (KPL), athough parted ways with McDonald’s, M&M’s and SPD Bank as the sponsors, and has current sponsorship contracts with HLA Jeans (apparel), 5 Gum (fmcg), Tongyi (Uni-President) Iced Tea (food and beverages), Volkswagen (automotive) and Vivo (electronics). The VIVO partnership is a crucial one for KPL, trying to strengthen it’s position as a leading mobile game.
At the current scenario, many companies in various sectors do not have any sponsorship deals or contracts at the league-level or the team-level, and therein lies the opportunity in the next 3-5 years. So far, companies in peripherals, music, telecom, cosmetics, social media and fmcg have least exposure to sponsorship deals with the leagues.