Advertising Age Sections Latest Editor’s Picks Most Popular Search How an Esports League Is Changing to Lure Brand Sponsors

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Imagine if the New York Knicks were booted from the NBA after a year of bad play. It would, at the very least, cause havoc for sponsors shelling out big bucks to back the team. This scenario has been exactly what’s happening in the burgeoning esports business, where poorly performing teams are dropped each year, potentially limiting the growth of a sport that has enjoyed a surge of fan interest in recent years.
One of the industry’s biggest players on Thursday announced changes aimed at fixing the problem in a bid to lure more brand dollars and make the sport more accessible to casual fans.
Riot Games Inc., owner of the wildly popular League of Legends game and leagues, unveiled a new franchise model for its North American League Championship Series that includes creating a permanent lineup of teams starting in 2018.
Teams joining that lineup must pay a $10 million fee, a big amount that suggests something about just how lucrative competitive video game playing has become. Less than two years ago, esports teams sold for about $1 million, according to Bloomberg.

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