Ten years ago the average person wouldn’t have been able to tell you what an ‘esport’ was, let alone predict the incredible impact esports’ rapidly evolving industry would have on sports, pop culture and the internet over the next few years. Today, esports is a well established form of entertainment at a global level, with a fan base on par with many long-standing traditional sports. Whereas in the past, only gaming devotees would be exposed to esports content, a range of esport media is now consumed by the general public. Gone are the days when esports merely made for ‘niche news’; specialized coverage largely incomprehensible to an outsider. In looking to appeal to an even wider audience, esport media is more accessible and diverse than ever before.
But whilst esport content may have become more accessible in recent years, marketers still face the daunting task of acquainting themselves with the main platforms and understanding how and why they are utilized by gamers. A thorough knowledge of the different online mediums through which esports are consumed is essential for any brand looking to establish itself within the industry.
Esport content comes in many forms, such as through live-streaming on both specialized and mainstream channels, as well as a combination of general and gaming-related forums and news outlets.
Several popular platforms, such as Twitch.tv, Reddit or GosuGamers, have also played a vital role in helping esports develop and reach the level of success it enjoys today. These particular platforms have managed to stay popular and relevant by offering convenient features which continuously evolve to meet the increasing demands of the users and to better serve the esports community.
Let’s take a look at the main esport content formats with which any marketer and content creator should be familiar before venturing into the truly unique world of esports and esport betting.
Top Streaming Sites for Esport Websites
Twitch.tv is the leading streaming service for gamers around the world. Players can live-stream their channel, through which they typically play a game or entertain viewers through other game-related means. If the viewers enjoy the content they can sponsor the streamer with a one-off donation or through a subscription which allows for set donations once a month and grants bonuses depending on the channel and the streamer. This premise allows streamers to make a living out of their hobby. Twitch, almost single-handedly, has made it possible for the talented and entertaining to consider playing video games as a full-time career. In addition, it offers a platform for hosts/casters of esport tournaments to stream and popularize contests. This, in turn, gives entertaining commentators a chance to gain fans, thereby creating a cycle whereby the success of esports’ various facets are dependent upon each other - but primarily fueled, quite simply, by viewership and how intensely devoted these players are to their favourite games.
Although Twitch has competitors, it remains the leading streaming service by a very large margin, partly due to the enormous user base it established very early in the lifespan of esports, along with the general quality of its features and services. In fact, since 2014 Twitch has been steadily positioned in the list of top 30 most visited websites in the world. Following, to some extent, the Twitch model - YouTube and Facebook have implemented live-streaming services for gamers and these are now also widely used. For example, the Dota 2 event ESL One Genting 2018 was streamed on Facebook instead of Twitch - although it is worth noting that the organisers faced strong backlash from the viewer-base because of this decision. As with everything in esports and sports in general, fans are deeply opinionated and do not readily embrace change to the norm.
In January of 2018, headlines hit the internet announcing that more people tuned into Twtich.tv than the American news network CNN. Two months later, in March, the record for highest number of simultaneous viewers on one channel was smashed. The music artist Drake played with one of the most successful ‘Fortnite’ streamers, Ninja. Throughout their session, several famous people joined in and at its peak, the stream had over 635,000 viewers. Even with all non-esport streaming platforms considered, Twitch accounts for over 43% of all video-streaming traffic.
The future of Twitch.tv may pave the way for esports events to start competing with the viewership and prize money of nationalised sports broadcasts. This is already the case in South Korea. The stadium that hosted the 2002 football World Cup semi-final was filled for the League of Legends World Championship 2014 - a tournament naturally streamed on Twitch to additional thousands of viewers. But esports has ventured further than arenas and online streaming services, as tournaments are now frequently shown on mainstream television. In the United States, the iconic sports network ESPN have already embraced esports with open arms. Since 2014 the network has been televising the Dota 2 world championship, The International. An effect of this is the ‘sportifying’ of esports - influencing the way it is presented so that it may be compatible with traditional sports coverage. The esports community has divided opinions on whether or not mainstream networks such as ESPN should have such a potentially large role in shaping the nature of esports.
Reddit Forums for Player and Fan Insights
As esports make for a vast industry which incorporates many games and various gamer communities, it can be hard to keep track of all of the major events and headlines. Almost every game has its own respective forums where players can post announcements and create discussion. However it can be impractical, if not downright impossible, to spend time browsing through each one of these forums in collecting market information, insights and news. Reddit offers a solution to this – the most interesting posts can be filtered through the relevant subreddits. The news-sharing site is popular for its collection of links, articles and posts that can be tailored toward each individual user, giving them easy and instant browser or app access to all the latest news in one place.
Users can comment, or ‘upvote’ or ‘downvote’ other comments. This system allows for the most helpful comments, summaries and discussions to be shown first in the thread, so that users can delve into a thread and get the general gist of the subject matter without having to invest much time.
If there’s a trending esport article out there - you can count on it being shared in one of Reddit’s esport subreddits. Famous players will often partake in AMAs that receive considerable engagement from subscribers. Though there exist general esport subreddits, the most active subreddits focus on one game in particular. Some notable subreddits to follow include:
The Most Popular Esport News Outlets
One can of course go directly to the source of the most trusted and informative esport news. Most websites take the form of traditional news outlets and are updated by passionate fans on a volunteer basis or by professional esport writers and experts. The main websites to check out for news include;
These websites are sometimes aimed at offering esport analytics rather than just news. For esports enthusiasts, reading these analytics could help provide useful insight for esport betting. Several websites news websites also provide compiled statistics on everything ranging from trends within games to the success of individual players or teams. For team and player bios, your best bet is the team’s official website.
Esport Betting Websites and Media
Esports attract a gambling crowd just like any other sport. As such, the industry has recently seen esports pair with iGaming. Established and new betting brands alike are competing to offer players favourable and fun ways to bet on their favourite esport titles. The average esport better is, however, of a different profile than the average online casino player or traditional sportsbook better - so content must be adapted accordingly.
Creating esports betting content requires a strong understanding of esport demographics and the types of bets in which players are interested. Typically, players are looking to use their knowledge of their favourite game to place bets on ‘totals’ or propositions such as how many ‘kills’ a player will get, or for how long a match will last. Providing information on types of available bets and their odds is not enough, a content marketer must also ensure that the information truly reads like it was written by a pro familiar with the game in question, or the marketer risks alienating hardcore fans. Esport players also expect a slick presentation of esport betting platforms. Their young and tech-savvy profile means they are less forgiving of outdated and cluttered websites.
No matter the esport or type of content in question, there’s rarely an opportunity for esport marketer to safely bypass the need for thorough research. The highly specialized nature of esports means a longer period of study might be needed before brands can feel confident in the content they present to their audience. We’ve already seen a rising demand for esport writers with game-specific expertise across the igaming industry, having the positive and noticeable effect of raising the standard of esports betting content.
Planning to launch an esports marketing campaign? Working on an esports content plan? Get in touch today to see how we can take your content to the next level with our professional esports writers.