From Red Bull to Mastercard, from Movistar to Clarín: everyone goes for a millionaire business of global interest
Mastercard and Electronics Arts. Fibertel and Movistar. Redbull and Twitch. Riot Games and YouTube. The UADE and FIFA, the Superliga and Javier Mascherano. What do they all have in common?
That all are behind the e-sports, the latest phenomenon of entertainment worldwide, which promises to start writing the story definitively from this year in Argentina.
In the second half of 2018, electronic sports began to be more visible in the country. While several companies had begun before to link with the activity.
The departure of FIFA 19, in September last year, encouraged those in charge of the Superliga, eager to develop new businesses tied to digital times, to join the FIFA Global Series, the virtual championship of the governing body of football, with the Super League .
In October, Telefónica launched its Movistar TV television service, within the package that includes telephony and fiber optic broadband. As part of its differential, it includes in its Movistar eSports grid, present on both Movistar TV and Movistar Play. It was part of the launching of the signal at the regional level.
In November, Mastercard presented its new business strategy for the region, more oriented towards becoming an electronic payment company than a simple credit card.
Although historically he had been one of the strongest sponsors of the most important sporting events, he assured that he would also take that place in the world of electronic sports.
Previously, it had signed the global agreement with Riot Games, American video game developer and organizer of the League of Legends (LoL) tournaments, to become a sponsor of the three main videogame competitions on the planet: Mid-Season Invitational, All Star and World Championship.
In those months, also emerged U-Beat, the platform of the Mediapró Group, aimed at the consumption of e-sports and video games from mobile devices. As a sign of the commitment of the Catalan company in Latin America, in January it began its first activity in Argentina with Fibertel through the League of Professional Video Games (LVP).
There is talk of a millionaire business, so much so that it is difficult to find a figure that accounts for it. Those of sponsorship or transmission contracts do not usually transcend. An estimate made by Mastercard indicates that the volume will be around US $ 1 billion.
However, there are other numbers that do allow us to glimpse that this is something even more interesting: the numbers of audiences that move in this new world of electronic sports are shocking.
Estimates for 2018 indicated that some 380 million people followed e-sports in their variants, either through a live broadcast and live or on demand.
For this year, we are already talking about 500 million individuals globally for the various alternatives. A non-negligible audience if compared to the 1,000 million viewers of the final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The Professional Videogames League is the most important competition of this type in Spain. With operations in Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Peru and the United Kingdom, the league has more than 20 million unique users, of which 75% is Spanish-speaking and 40% is concentrated in Latin America, according to with Mediapró.
Such audience levels justify the sponsorships, the presence of big brands and also the prizes that, at least at the local level, already begin to be distributed even when the activity is at an incipient stage.
In Argentina, the Professional Videogame League offers about US $ 40,000, while the eSuperliga clubs participate for more than half a million pesos. Not bad for the debut.
Superliga, in electronic version
As a strong reference in world football, it makes sense for the AFA to advance with the e-Superliga. And as a country well positioned in the software and IT services industry, it is also logical that teams emerge from universities and actions from the main companies in the market.
In turn, two of the three main telecommunications operators do their thing: Telefónica, with its own electronic sports signal; and Fibertel, adding his name to the Professional Videogame League.
The local tournament emerged with the eSuperliga RedBull in the last months of 2018. Each club that participates in the First Division tournament also has its "electronic" team, made up of three gamers, one of which is put by the club and the other two come out of a classification that, when this selection was made, summoned more than 3,000 people.
"In order to be able to qualify for that instance, you had to have FIFA 19. It came out in September and for this call, few people had the new game, which is also expensive, as it is an official FIFA tournament, it gives points for the FIFA Global Series ", explains iProUP Matías Cecileo, marketing manager of the Superliga Argentina.
When electronic games began to play, the official tournament had already begun. This championship stipulates that both leagues are played simultaneously. It was the reason why games will be advanced with the expectation that, in mid-February, Superliga matches and those of its electronic version will play the same date.
ESuperliga has its own website and RedBull is the main sponsor, hence it takes the name of the brand and differs from the mother tournament, which bears the name of Quilmes.
Here we must remember that Javier Mascherano joined the movement through the company e-Sports Planet, of which he is a shareholder, in charge of managing the platform on which the games are developed.
Outside of football, the world of video games is increasingly professionally armed.
In this sense, Movistar included in its offer of packaged services the Movistar eSport signal, which arises to have differential content within the Movistar Play and Movistar TV platforms, and as a common umbrella for the different initiatives of the countries in which the company operates.
"The objective of the signal is to become a regional reference for this type of content, each country manages a different strategy, in Argentina, in 2017 we closed the sponsorship of the League Of Legends (LoL) final", they explain from the company to iProUP.
The content it broadcasts comes largely from the agreement closed with Riot Games, which is why the South American championship of LoL is called Movistar which, in turn, has the rights to broadcast live games.
On January 24, Fibertel gave his initial kick-off to the Fibertel Master League along with Mediapró, a competition that brings together the eight best LoL teams in Argentina.
This tournament will be the only qualifier for the Latin American League that prepares Riot Games for 2019. And it will be done without leaving aside the National Circuits, which will be maintained for amateur teams that wish to dedicate themselves to this activity and move on to professionalism.
In the case of this championship, the teams are composed of five starters, two substitutes and a coach. They are joined by a staff made up of experts in marketing, communication and finance. It is clear that there is business.
All over the Internet
And where do these matches look? Twitch and YouTube are the two major platforms that carry the transmissions. It does not matter what type of tournament it is. The living go around.
The younger or "centennial" public is increasingly inclined to Twitch. And there are the chips. But nothing is exclusive. At least not for now.
"The transmission of the eSuperliga is via streaming, by Twitch and YouTube, we are negotiating with the television signals so that they also broadcast it, something that could happen in mid-February or early March," Cecileo, from the Superliga, explains. iProUP.
The executive did not rule out that there are several signals that participate, although everything will depend on the talks, very different from the traditional transmissions.
"This is a publicity business, it is not pay per view." With the eSuperliga, we seek to amplify the base, because millennials do not see '90 minutes of a football game, but fragments of how a boy plays videogames. a way to generate new content and link real to virtual football, "the executive points out.
The Fibertel Master League, meanwhile, is followed by the LVP channels of Twitch and Youtube. In addition to Riot Games and Twitch itself, Red Bull is also one of the main sponsors.
The audience measurements will be based on the amount of visualizations of both platforms as well as on the actions of social networks in relation to the interactions that are generated.
Behind the crowds
The other story that appears is the one that begins to write the marks in the country. Red Bull sponsors both the Super League and the LVP. MasterCard, the phenomenon of LoL. They go where the hearings are. And in electronic sports, they are counted in millions.
A paradigmatic case is that of Electronic Arts, the studio that develops videogames (such as FIFA) that decided to strengthen its e-sports division to increase revenues in that area through strategies ranging from sponsorship to copyright. transmission, without neglecting licenses and promotional material.
From Mastercard, meanwhile, they highlight iProUP: "As a global brand and technology company, we see great synergy for a company like ours to be in this space." Our partnership with LoL opens up opportunities for us to engage with this global community "
In addition, the company notes that "The growth of online games presents a great opportunity for our business and our brand." Involving ourselves with fans in both the digital and the physical environment is something we need to execute throughout our sponsorship portfolio. .
LoL is the largest e-sport in the world: it has more than 100 million active users and operates 14 professional leagues. The fanaticism generated by these tournaments reaches such a point that the alternatives of the 2017 World Championship registered 1,200 million hours of sight and 80 million unique live viewers.
Such a movement also seduces universities to participate, in the world and also in these latitudes. UADE created the e-sports division more than a year ago and obtained its first achievement at the end of 2018, when its team was champion of the LoL tournament organized by the University League of Electronic Sports (LUDENS).
These are the actors that are beginning to animate the world of electronic sports in Argentina. The story has just begun and there is no doubt that it will continue.