Advertisers attending Machinima’s Newfront presentation today aren’t encountering the usual barrage of promotions for new programs. The Warner Bros-backed videogame-oriented digital video network instead is trying to sell them on new tools it’s offering to help them spend on the fast-growing eSports business.
The company is introducing Mach-1, which will provide data and analytics to help them understand the eSports terrain and opportunities. It also will promote Machinma Preferred Media Solutions, to help them navigate what it calls “the complex, layered topography of gaming and fandom.”
“Instead of coming together and saying, ‘look at me, look at me, look at me’ for two hours, we thought we would say: ‘Let’s have a conversation to help you guys understand an opportunity that you are interested in understanding’,” Machinima CEO Chad Gutstein tells me.
The global eSport market is expected to hit $910 million this year, growing to $1.3 billion in 2019. It’s especially popular in Asia, but also catching on in North America and Europe.
With a fan base growing at nearly 20% a year, eSports “is going to be bigger than [football and basketball] pretty quickly,” Gutstein says — likening the business to rock ‘n’ roll in 1959.
Time Warner is especially interested. In addition to its investment in Machinima, its Turner networks unit recently teamed with WME-IMG to create an eSports venture called eLeague that launches this summer. This week Turner CEO John Martin called it “somewhat of an experiment” that could result in the development of “a big franchise and a big asset” for TV and digital platforms.
But lots of advertisers — for example in consumer packaged goods, autos, apparel, technology and financial services — don’t know exactly how to reach the consumers that they want, and what messages will resonate with them.
“Our audience is traditionally young and male, and you’d think, ‘Well, I can get young men with sports’,” Gutstein says. “They’re not watching traditional sports. This is what they’re doing with their time.”
Even after advertisers understand that, most “don’t have the knowledge base of how to proceed. They can’t build a strategy. If you can’t build a strategy then you can’t build a business case to invest. Which means you can’t get budget. Which means you can’t build a campaign around it. That means you can’t do business.”