Editor's note: Veteran entertainment journalist John Gaudiosi is now a regular contributor to [a]list daily.
By John Gaudiosi
This past weekend saw record livestreams on Twitch thanks to Valve Software’s The International 3 and its $2.8 million prize pool and Blizzard Entertainment’s World Championship Series (WCS) Season 2 Regional Finals. Twitch reported 4.5 million unique viewers in one day on August 11. Over 550 million minutes were watched this past weekend with an average viewing time of over two hours per viewer. These types of numbers are finally attracting mainstream brands. On the heels of American Express launching a Riot Games League of Legends debit card comes Nissan’s first foray into eSports.
Nissan has partnered with Team Curse League of Legends players for an online campaign to promote the Versa Note through the Your Door To More social video contest, encouraging gamers to create short videos for the chance to win a $1,000 Amazon gift card and have their video appear in a Nissan commercial. Team Curse pro gamers are using their own massive social media outreach to spread the word on this promotion virally.
According to Donovan Duncan, vice president of marketing at Curse, the Web giant is doing over a billion page views per month and has 40 million uniques worldwide on comScore.
“We are reaching on average 10 million viewers on streams each month,” said Duncan. “We also reach about 600,000 people through various social media channels. We'll clear over $20 million in revenue this year.”
It’s these types of numbers that caught the attention of Nissan’s advertising agency, Chiat/Day. Baker Lambert, senior strategist at the agency, is a big fan of eSports, having watched many StarCraft II and League of Legends matches.
“We chose to connect with e-sports because the yourdoortomore.com campaign lives 100% online, and since eSports isn't broadcast on TV or any other medium (yet), eSports fans are 100% online,” said Lambert. “The demographic fits very closely with the demographic we were trying to reach with this campaign, and partnering with eSports also provided us a lot of ‘bang for the buck’ in terms of cost per impression than most other mediums. So, when we stepped back and looked at it -- it was finding the right audience in the right place at the right time -- and it made perfect sense to be a part of that.”
Duncan believes this Nissan deal goes a long way in legitimizing the sport. Millions of people are watching these matches. The involvement of a company like Nissan means companies outside of the industry are starting to take notice.
“As more and more of these companies start to get involved, eSports will become as mainstream and sought-after as the NFL in terms of organizations that companies want to be associated with,” said Duncan. “Our players have a lot of fans, and unlike other professional sports teams our players have a lot of online interaction with their fans through livestreaming. Our audience is very engaged, so partnering with our team opens up the opportunity for advertisers to interact with the user on a very personal level through our athletes.”
According to Lambert, the campaign, which runs through August 19, has seen more engagement from the gaming community and eSports than from any other source.
“Nissan is an innovative brand, so it makes sense that they would be one of the first mainstream advertisers to try this up-and-coming format,” said Lambert. “This campaign and the success it has had so far has raised a lot of eyebrows in the industry, and has really demonstrated how much potential exists using this medium. We feel like there is nothing but growth potential for partnerships between mainstream brands and eSports.”
Lambert said the huge numbers League of Legends is amassing won over the agency. They chose Team Curse over other teams because of the professionalism of the pros.
“There are certainly other eSports teams out there grabbing a lot of views, but they aren’t necessarily portraying the kind of image you would want to align a brand with. After talking with team captain, Brandon ‘Saintvicious’ DiMarco, I was impressed with his professionalism, commitment, and business savvy and I knew that this was a team that had the organization, professionalism, and talent needed for a viable partnership.”
“By utilizing influential celebrities in the gaming world, Nissan is realizing the power that streaming and eSports can have on fan interactions with their brands,” said Nathan Lindberg vice president of sales at Curse. “We're excited to be the first eSports organization to introduce this to an automobile company in North America.”
Duncan added that livestreaming has really taken the place of conventional TV and media for a lot of the people who watch it. Some of Curse’s streamers are reaching 50,000 people concurrently for hours at a time. It’s changing their lifestyle and the way they consume content. This also opens up a unique opportunity for advertisers, who get a direct feed into a highly engaged and attentive consumer audience.
“If someone wants to watch a game of League of Legends, their only option is to watch it online; that makes eSports an especially viable option for campaigns requiring online engagement,” said Lambert.
Steve Arhancet, director of eSports at Curse added, “Nissan is a blue chip company and their participation in the industry is yet another indication of the tremendous maturity of the league and its abilities to attract large brand sponsors.”
With livestreaming numbers continuing to grow with each big eSports event, and more events happening around the globe on a regular basis, these types of opportunities for mainstream brands will continue. Nissan has also been able to tap into Team Curse and the livestream of practice games, which is unique to eSports and allows fans to watch their favorite players practice every day. This literally opens up daily connections with a huge fan base.