Different than in many traditional sports, esports is still a package deal, where a sponsor sponsors the entire team and the individuals within it, rather than just the team. This gives sponsors unrivaled access to the deep parasocial relationships that many players and talent form with their audience. Of course, this depends on the team and what their priorities are, but apart from tournament performance, one of the most important factors to achieving a good ROI is utilizing the organization’s talent properly.
This is the case for esports organizations BIG whose media value is created by 63% by their players and talent. And they are by far not alone, G2 has 65% of their media value created by the talent and not the team accounts.
There could be many different explanations for this setup from the sense of community from being a fan of a team versus the parasocial interactions, relationships, and the sense of community from being a fan of a streamer or a player instead.
Without diving too deep into the fascinating world of parasocial relationships, in short, it can be explained this way:
Especially younger esports organizations heavily rely on the reach of their star-players to reach a wider audience. They are, apart from great tournament success, unable to provide the same sense of belonging and community, that for example, long-standing traditional football clubs like Real Madrid or Juventus Turin provide.
Parasocial relationships that talent has with their audience form much quicker. Especially with the exacerbated accessibility of the talent through social media, their strength is intensified and formed much quicker. This in turn increases the created media value by the talent, and then subsequently the esports organization.
So what does this mean for brands sponsoring and esports organizations?
Be aware and honest about the strength of your organization. Are you a talent or tournament-performance-driven organization? Where can you create the biggest value for your sponsors? And maybe most importantly, can you increase and leverage the social media and streaming performance of your members? By becoming data-savvy, you can leverage, and understand the value that your talents bring to the table better. It also allows you to benchmark your talent and set social media KPIs for them. So that in turn, you can overall negotiate a better sponsorship deal.
Esports at this point offer something advertisers get nowhere else: Access to the likeness and often following of the talent of the organization. That is something a brand marketer needs to actively be aware of, request in the sponsorship negotiations, utilize and track. This way you can be sure to get the maximum out of the sponsorship investments.
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