YouTube took a huge step further into eSports today with a multi-year partnership with leading eSports platform FaceIt, creators of the ESports Championship Series (ECS). YouTube will become the exclusive livestreaming home to ECS, which features Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). Beginning March 25, gamers can tune into ECS Promotion matches on youtube.com/faceit.
Ryan Wyatt, global head of gaming content at YouTube, told [a]listdaily that FaceIt was an obvious choice when jumping into the eSports space with its biggest investment to date.
“The explosion of growth in CS:GO is fascinating and it’s massive on YouTube today,” Wyatt said. “I like how FaceIt is set up. It’s the biggest eSports product in world, but they have an interesting setup in that we’re able to sell and monetize the content and do more in-depth product integrations and support around CS:GO. Google’s sales force is handling that, and allows FaceIt to focus on great content.”
Wyatt believes YouTube Gaming can help FaceIt attract much bigger non-endemic brands to eSports by streaming this content to its massive gaming audience. “We’re in front of partners and clients because we have a lot of different gaming content that we’re selling, but one area of interest is eSports,” Wyatt said. “We’re not just selling the ads, but we’re interested in creating deeper brand integrations.”
Wyatt added that the work that Riot Games did with Coca-Cola and American Express and what Turner has done with Buffalo Wild Wings and Arby’s has paved the way for bigger brands. ESL also brought Sprite and Gillette on board for its Intel Extreme Masters global tournament.
Wyatt said the reason Google looked at this opportunity as an exclusive multi-year deal was so that they could leverage the Google sales force around the world. “We can help massively change the economics of these deals in by bringing more money to the eSports ecosystem,” Wyatt said. “YouTube has the biggest gaming audience. It’ time to introduce more gamers to eSports. We have a lot of people on YouTube who don’t know what eSports is. We feel we’re well-positioned to expand this audience.”
This deal comes at a time when the future growth of the industry still needs some help when it comes to financial structure and production costs. “ESports leagues are expensive to run and we need to figure out a way to sell these sponsorships in a meaningful way,” Wyatt said. “It’s the perfect time to take eSports to more mainstream brands. It’ll take a village to do that.”
Wyatt believes YouTube has an advantage in the eSports market because of its focus across the entire gaming landscape.
“A lot of people in the gaming space appreciate authenticity, and having relationships with a lot of people in the industry has helped us from a personal perspective,” Wyatt said. “ESports is just a part of that space. We’re taking a holistic approach with gaming from mobile, to VR, to livestreaming and eSports. A lot of content falls in between there. We’ll move through this space in a smart way and make smart investments for teams, players and leagues and the overall community. We’ve been methodical and particular in figuring out how to invest in eSports.”
Thanks to its previous partnership with ESL and its Counter-Strike tournaments, YouTube has become the top destination for the most popular game in eSports today. “There’s such an appetite for CS:GO content; it’s massive,” Wyatt said. “It’s in the top five for us on our platform today. We now have two of the most premium CS:GO eSports platforms on the site and that resonates well with the community. ESL’s CS:GO and FaceIt are the gold standard for league CS:GO content today.”
Wyatt said these two CS:GO platforms are very complimentary and share in one another’s growth, tapping into the huge user base on the platform, which should be a win-win for both companies.
“ESL is a competitor, but there’s a working cadence and respect across the entire eSports landscape,” Wyatt said. “As an industry, we’re seeing companies working together to provide consistent programming every day because it’s in everyone’s best interest to have transparency and ensure the eSports community has engaging content.”