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Esports was officially recognized in Russia as sport in 2016. This event heightened interest in this industry of not only schoolchildren and students but also businesses. The industry got even more attention in 2020 as match broadcasts became a great way to spend time during the coronavirus lockdown.
The esports audience in Russia keeps booming (20% per year in average). In 2019, this segment’s audience passed the mark of 12 million people, as it follows from the summary of the report by Nielsen Sports. According to forecasts of PwC, the Russian market will continue growing unabated and will have achieved the target of $100 million by 2023.
According to Esports Charts, the audience of Twitch, the largest platform for game broadcasts, has averagely increased by 78% from February until May. Interestingly, Russian there is the second most popular language after English, with up to 15% of all broadcasts in it. The core audience of Twitch is men (up to 75%) aged 14-34.
Esports has become an industry long ago, and any industry generates profit. There is a huge number of relevant studies.
The core esports audience in Russia consists of men aged 18-34 with an average income of approx. 43K rubles per month, that is why, if a brand is targeted at men, this is definitely its story. However, women should not be disregarded either—while the share of the female audience has ranged within 5-6% until recently, now it is getting close to 20%.
Choosing the ersports audience for ads, a company solves two tasks:
Esports championships have been competing with traditional sports in popularity for a while. Along with the audience, they appropriate their attributes such as impressive fees, participation of celebrities, sponsorship of teams, and air time on federal TV.
This summer, a 8-hour broadcast of the final League of Legends Continental League, where CIS teams play, was watched by 117 thousand people at its height, or 56% more than a year before.
Awarding of the winners culminated in an online participation of Noize MC from his studio. The musician congratulated gamers live and played a concert consisting of his popular songs and a League of Legends song inspired by the game.
According to Nielsen, almost one quarter of the audience (24%) is loyal to brands investing into esports. This is really true because a closed esports community understands that a brand that comes into esports and becomes a partner or a sponsor of a team or a tournament brings money directly to gamers.
The esports audience is open to communication with brands, but only when brands speak their language. Communication must be permanent and multi-channel: interaction with a young audience in the esports platform is a strategy, not tactics. Integration should be as native as possible, with the use of elements, style, characters, and key actors of the discipline or game chosen.
Following audience, business goes more actively into esports, too: the number of sponsorship deals in the industry worldwide, according to Nielsen, has increased almost 60 times for the last five years, from 20 to 1173. While they were endemic companies in the beginning, or manufacturers of game devices and peripherals, now almost all youth brands and even ‘mature’ clients are advertised here.
One of the reasons of such interest is a high ROI from sponsorship. Sponsor brands gained three rubles per each invested ruble in form of a media value, an aggregate index of both tangible and intangible sponsorship assets.
The pandemic and lockdown brought millions of new fans of esports. As forecast by experts, one of the key further growth areas for esports and its audience will be further development of esport disciplines on mobile devices.
As for advertisers, their number will keep growing. New tools and mechanics will appear, but the focus on online broadcasts and sponsorship as major formats of participation will survive next year.
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About the Author
Head of Digital, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Agency Blog