It’s no secret that COVID-19 has given an extra kick to the gaming world over the past five months.
Traditional sports teams are running esports competitions to engage fans, like NASCAR’s iRacing competition -- which, according to Nielsen, was the highest-viewed esports competition aired on linear television (a place where you don’t expect to have esports viewership) with over 900k viewers, and Texas TV station group TEGNA ran an Overwatch League docuseries on local stations, topping their young-adult viewership record.
Streamers are experiencing increased viewership (Twitch broke records two quarters in a row for hours watched, up from 3 billion in the first quarter to 5 billion in the second quarter), and multiple new platforms are launching (Tencent’s Trovo and VENN) or receiving major investments.
In addition, data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic to research the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on game time has revealed only positive signs that gaming has continued to gain ground in mainstream.
In terms of time spent, gaming has been up 45% for adults 18+, according to the latest eMarketer report -- a number that has surely continued to increase throughout the continued lockdown -- and is expected to maintain net gains.
With this combination, any marketer or advertiser should be exploring ways to become involved with gaming culture.
To name a few developments on the business investment side:
Jimmy Iovine, legendary music mogul, co-founder of Interscope Records and Beats by Dre, invested $40 million in lifestyle brand and esports team FaZe Clan in April.
Sony invested $250 million into Epic Games (creators/owners of Fortnite).
Business personality Gary Vaynerchuk, wine connoisseur and co-founder of the restaurant reservation Resy app bought by AMEX in 2019, and his media outlet, VaynerMedia, just launched a new division called VaynerGaming to manage focusing on esports athletes and gaming personalities.
Vindex -- a gaming and esports company founded by the co-founders of Major League Gaming, which was acquired by Activision Blizzard a few years ago -- has just bought BelongGaming for around $50 million, and committed an additional $300 million investment in BelongGaming’s mission to open 500 venues for gaming and esports across the US.
In addition, Vindex started a partnership with well-known cinema company IMAX back in January to produce esports content and competitions for viewership at IMAX venues (before we all stopped getting to go to the movies).
Cox Enterprises and Fox invested $113 million through Series D funding in the up-and-coming streaming service Caffeine.
All of the investments cited here share a common thread -- they are all coming from investors who have had success breaking into mainstream entertainment with their innovation. They are all vanguard companies and personalities who have their eye on the entertainment of young consumers -- and that entertainment is increasingly becoming more and more centered on gaming.
According to WARC’s Global Ad Trends 2020 report, two-thirds of adults ages 18-25 would rather watch gaming content or play video games than watch linear TV -- and that’s the future with cord-cutters, cord-nevers, etc.
With engaging content for the allegiance of young adults, there will be opportunities to get in on the ground floor. Going up?