ESPN Gets Serious About eSports

What Happened
eSports have been receiving increasing attention from mainstream media lately. Turner Broadcasting announced in September its plan to air eSports tournament on TBS during prime time this year, and now ESPN, the leading cable channel in sports, is also getting into the eSports game by launching a brand new vertical to cover competitive gaming. The Disney-owned network has launched a dedicated section on to cover eSports news, videos, and profiles about influential members from the eSports community. Plus, a new Twitter handle @ESPN_Esports is also created to support the new vertical.

What Brands Need To Do
Over the past few years, esports have grown into a massive media platform that attracts hundreds of millions of spectators and generates billions of dollars. This new ESPN vertical shows how serious eSports have become in today’s media landscape. Previously, early-moving brands like Coca-Cola and Geico have been sponsoring esports events to reach their staggering number of viewers. Now with ESPN on board, brands will have more platforms to reach the much-coveted demographic of young millennial guys.


Source: Engadget

Header image courtesy of @ESPN_Esports

YouTube Gaming To Offer Mobile Broadcasting And Ad-free Monthly Subscription

What Happened
YouTube Gaming continues to catch up with its archrival Twitch with an Android app update, which adds paid subscriptions, called “sponsorships.” For a monthly fee of $3.99, sponsorships let users go ad-free and unlock exclusive content from their favorite streamers. Moreover, the new update also lets users broadcast directly from their mobile devices, largely simplifying the set-up process.

Industry Impact
As YouTube gradually closes the gap between its gaming division and Twitch, these new features, especially the “sponsorships,” give gamers some incentives to put up their content on YouTube Gaming, as it does not require exclusivity as Twitch does. And with the proliferation of content, YouTube Gaming should be able to attract more eyeballs, which, combined with the vast amount of user data that Google has, offers brands and advertisers a great platform to target millions of young millennials that make up the gaming community.


Source: The Verge

Event Recap: Highlights From The First-Ever TwitchCon

Twitch’s first ever conference dedicated to its community was far from ordinary. From September 25th to 26th, the heart of San Francisco was home to over 20,000 fans, gamers, and broadcasters. Throughout the event, the IPG Media Lab team interacted with partners, attended sessions, and even had sit-downs with Twitch influencers Itmejp and DansGaming. Here are some of the highlights of TwitchCon 2015.

During the keynote, Twitch unveiled that they will be finishing their roll out of their HTML5 video player in early 2016, and that there will finally be a Twitch app available across the Playstation Network. The apps will feature full chat integration, complete emoticon support, and will highlight broadcasts across PS4, PS3, PS Vita, and PS TV.


Aside from the staggering $173,320 prize pool, the H1Z1 Invitational was a showdown amongst some of the most popular broadcasters on Twitch such as Lirik, Summit1g, Itmejp, and Sodapoppin. H1Z1 is a combat-oriented game forcing players to fight to the death on a shrinking map until there is one player left standing. At one point there were over 130,000 concurrent viewers watching the live stream on Twitch.

Later, SF-based Twitch and LA-based Red Bull faced-off on the main stage in a Super Smash Bros. exhibition match where the winning office got to choose the location of a $10,000 prize-pool Super Smash Bros. event. Twitch beat Red Bull 3-0, unsurprisingly.


Even though TwitchCon primarily focused on offering its community workshops and classes to help improve their Twitch channel, brands should take notice. The event offered great insights on how Twitch built such a tight-knit community of influencers and fans and how they propelled the service into what it is today. It showcased Twitch’s wide variety of influencers, their tastes, and how they represent themselves to the community, and the ways influencers promote brands on their channel without offending or losing their followers.

Overall, TwitchCon was a huge success especially among millennials. Not only did the event attract a mass audience but also topped 1.9 million unique online viewers across the event’s various streams.



Header image courtesy of


Why Brands Need To Heed eSports

What Happened
Following DraftKings’ announcement of extending its fantasy sports platform into esports, rival platform FanDuel unveiled a similar plan to enter competitive video gaming with its acquisition of AlphaDraft, an esports site that offers fantasy contests.

In related news, TBS announced today that it’s teaming up with WME-IMG to air 20  live programs of professional gamers playing the popular video game “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” beginning next year in prime time.

What Brands Need To Do
Over the past few years, esports have grown into a massive media platform that attracts hundreds of millions of spectators and generates billions of dollars.The TBS deal marks a significant milestone for the competitive gaming industry, as the show holds a primetime slot on a widely distributed basic cable network. Previously, brands were only able to reach its highly coveted young male audience by sponsoring esports events, and this new TBS show, along with the new esports fantasy sports platforms, offer new places to reach millennial men.


Source: Recode and Digiday

Event Recap: Oculus Toybox Demo

Live from Oculus Connect in Hollywood, it’s IPG Media Lab. We’re on the ground trying the latest demos and covering the latest news from the conference.

Today the IPG Media Lab went hands-on with the Crescent Bay headset and Touch controllers as part of the Oculus Toybox Demo, their multiplayer interactive sandbox. As the headset booted-up a holographic head wearing a Crescent Bay appeared along a pair of hands – a headless avatar named Oculus Mike. From there, Oculus Mike introduced himself and began to walk me through the Oculus Touch controllers which are ergonomically designed carbon joysticks with a thumbstick and trigger buttons.

As the demo started, a table appeared that had a number of different toys, blocks, and lasers to play with. The hardware sensors allowed for a variety of gestures and interactions, including grabbing, moving, flicking, as well as punching the surround toys and blocks, and even head-butting the hanging tetherball above.

Despite the inability to walk around the virtual environment with Oculus Mike, the combination of VR and social interaction was perhaps its most impressive feat. With VR headsets poised to hit the consumer market in early 2016, marketers need to start exploring the VR landscape in order to understand what game developers will do with the ability to have multiplayer virtual environments and how brands can seamless integrate to enhance and bring value to the experience.

DraftKings Expands Fantasy Sports To eSports

What Happened
Popular fantasy sports site DraftKings is expanding its platform to cover a hot new sport – competitive video gaming, also known as esports. Starting Oct. 1, fantasy sports players and video game enthusiasts will be able to take their bets on the League of Legends 2015 World Championships. DraftKings has also partnered up with several prominent esports teams in a bid to help boost the new addition to its fantasy ranks, similar to the partnerships the company signed with NFL and MLB.

What Brands Should Do
While relatively new, both eSports and online fantasy sports have been showing tremendous growth in recent years. A recent survey by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association reports that over 56.8 million people participated in fantasy sports in 2014. Bringing eSports into the fold would certainly give it a significant boost, in terms of both capital and audience size. As more and more brands infiltrate esports events via sponsorships. Those searching for young millennial guys need to start to pay attention to this burgeoning platform.


Source: Mashable

Nintendo Brings AR Gaming To Pokemon Mobile App

What Happened
Japanese game-maker Nintendo teamed up with Niantic Labs, the studio behind Google’s AR game Ingress, to bring popular game Pokemon to mobile devices – with a twist of Augmented Reality (AR). Aptly named Pokemon Go, the new app requires players to travel to real-world locations to catch, train, and battle their Pokemon. The game also has a Bluetooth-enabled wearable accessory that lights up and vibrates when players approach virtual Pokémon in the real world,.

What Brands Should Do
Augmented Reality is a promising marketing technique, and while Nintendo mentioned no brand integration, it’s not hard to see how local discovery could fit into this gameplay. For example, a brick-and-mortar retail brand could sponsor a specific kind of Pokemon to entice gamers to visit their store locations, or could host virtual battles or training grounds. As AR technologies matures, brands that are willing to experiment now to see how they fit into the AR space would be in a much better position.



Source: The Verge

The Future Of TV Is Apps, According to Apple

During Wednesday’s press event, Apple finally debuted a new Apple TV set-top box that aims to transform the way people watches TV. Equipped with a brand-new iOS 9-based operating system dubbed “tvOS,” the new Apple TV comes with App Store and Siri-enabled universal search across content platforms. Apple also debuted a new touchpad remote that doubles as a video game controller, further pushing Apple TV into the gaming market. The addition of App Store offers brands a gateway to infiltrate the living room space via branded TV app. Apple demoed several brands already developing their TV apps, including fashion e-retailer Gilt, Twitter’s livestreaming app Periscope, accommodation-booking app Airbnb, as well as media content providers like MLB.

Stay tuned for the Lab’s in-depth Fast Forward feature on the brand implications of the new Apple TV platform.

PlayStation 4 To Support Gameplay Livestream To YouTube

What Happened
Sony’s PlayStation 4 just received a major update, adding more cloud storage and the ability to stream game footage live on YouTube. Already equipped with the capability to stream gameplay live over Twitch, this new added support for YouTube would make streams visible on its newly launched YouTube Gaming mobile app and channel, no doubt helping to attract a bigger audience.

What Brands Should Do
With the rapid rise of eSports, also known as competitive gaming, a whole new media platform largely built upon livestreaming platforms like Twitch is now drawing hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide.  Sony’s decision to support YouTube Gaming will no doubt further expand the reach of eSports. Therefore, instead of dismissing it like Jimmy Kimmel recently did and alienating a significant segment of young, digital savvy audience, brands of all types should get on board with eSport, which some big-name brands like Coca-Cola, Red Bull, and Samsung are already vying to sponsor.


Source and header image: PlayStation.Blog‎

How Brands Are Infiltrating The Major eSports Events

What Happened
Thousands of video game enthusiasts gathered at Madison Square Garden this weekend to spectate the North American League of Legends Championship Series, proving once again that electronic sports, or eSports, has legitimately taken off as a new breed in the sports industry.

And as with any big sports event, many brands were present to capture the gamers’ eyeballs through sponsorships. Coca-Cola partnered with game developer Riot Games for prime placement as the sole official advertiser at the venue. Many other brands, including HTC, Geico, and Logitech, chose to sponsor individual teams and scored some on-stage presence with branded hoodies that players wore.

What Brands Should Do
eSports is a relatively new phenomenon that has been quickly gaining momentum in the past few years, amassing an audience size that could rival most programs on cable channels today. According to AdAge, eleven thousand fans jammed into Madison Square Garden on each day of the sold out event, with over one million more watched on streaming channels like YouTube or Twitch, whereas the majority of cable programs today rarely break one million in live audience. So if your brand is going after young millennial guys, eSports events provide a great platform to reach them.


Source: AdAge  

Header image credit: Chad Stoller