Mobile Brands Increase Pro League Presence, Coca-Cola Sponsors Overwatch
T-Mobile and AT&T expand their presence in esports, Coca-Cola signs a multi-year deal for all Overwatch competitions, and Epic Games will work with more third-party companies in 2019.
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Mobile Brands Increase Presence in Pro Leagues
Both AT&T and T-Mobile partnered with high profile esports organizations last year. T-Mobile became the presenting partner of the Overwatch League’s Most Valuable Player trophy (as well as a partner of the Houston Outlaws), while AT&T teamed up with ESL for a variety of activations.
Last week, T-Mobile announced yet another Overwatch League deal, this time for a jersey sponsorship of the New York Excelsior. AT&T, meanwhile, expanded into a new genre as a partner of the NBA 2K League. These deals are part of a growing trend of mobile providers entering and expanding their involvement in esports. With the rise of both mobile gaming and streaming, they make for natural partners for both leagues and teams.
The prize pool for the Six Invitational will top $1M USD, due to a share of in-game Rainbow Six Siege item sales. Last year’s Six Invitational was the breakout moment for Rainbow Six Siege esports, with 300% viewership growth year-over-year. Since then the pro league has been reworked, revenue-sharing programs have been introduced for teams, and more high profile organizations have entered the game. The Six Invitational 2019 will indicate how far the game has come in the last 12 months.
Epic Games’ competitive development update for Fortnite states that the company intends to work with more third-party organizers this year. Last year, Epic Games effectively eliminated third-party Fortnite events at the pro level by hosting them with immense prize pools and placing a cap on cash rewards for outside tournaments. Now, the developer has partnered with ESL for a $500K event, and stated it will bring more third-parties back into the mix, giving organizers access to the biggest game on Twitch.
Esports consumer product and retail company We Are Nations confirms a fundraising round with Esports Ventures LLC. Founded in 2016 as the sister company of a music/entertainment clothing provider, We Are Nations now boasts multiple merchandise partnerships, including the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS). Though financial terms were undisclosed, the company believes it will lead them to a Series A in 2020.
On top of the Overwatch League (OWL), Coca-Cola now has exclusivity to all Overwatch esports events, from the development league to its collegiate events. It is one of the first esports sponsorship deals that takes full advantage of a game developer’s total control over its intellectual property. It should be noted that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has served as a director for Coca-Cola since 2012.
Other Major Sponsorships/Partnerships
Kellogg’s has signed a three-year extension of its partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS), a deal in which the company also becomes the first non-endemic brand to make a long-term commitment to the league’s esports efforts.
Esports organization Natus Vincere (NAVI) has partnered with streaming platform Caffeine to broadcast exclusive behind-the-scenes content and player streams. In a separate announcement, NAVI revealed a partnership with DOJO Madness company Shadow to produce content highlighting the use of analytics in NAVI’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team preparation.
Super League Gaming and Topgolf have teamed up to organize a series of esports events at Topgolf venues. These venues will also be open for third-party organizers to host esports events using Super League’s proprietary tournament organization platform.
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