Sportradar US Exec Explains How ESports Data Will Help Drive Industry

When it comes to traditional sports such as baseball, it’s all about statistics for fans. Those types of stats are also a big part of the burgeoning eSports landscape, and now Sportradar US is delivering stats based on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, League of Legends, and StarCraft II to the same media companies that run NFL, NHL, and NASCAR numbers for fans to disseminate the details of what happened in a match.

In October, Sportradar secured a strategic investment from Revolution Growth to support its expansion in the U.S. Market, while announcing that Ted Leonsis, Mark Cuban, and Michael Jordan joined its U.S. Advisory Board. Cuban is a big proponent of eSports.

Will Thornton, business development manager of Sportradar US, has been in the numbers game since founding SportsData in 2010. That company was acquired by Swiss company Sportradar AG in 2013. He explains what eSports data distribution means for the growth of professional video gaming in this exclusive interview.

What separates Sportradar from anything else out there on the traditional sports front?

Initially, Sportradar US was able to gain a significant market share with a better mousetrap. We offered the industry faster data, and our clients were able to get their products up and running quickly because we provide a very easy-to-use API. Now we’ve taken things a step further with a commitment to bringing exclusive content to market, such as eSports or the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, and creating dynamic applications that unlock the power of sports data.

How does Sportradar work with the NFL, NHL, and NASCAR?

We are the official data partner for the NFL, NHL, and NASCAR. They rely on Sportradar to license their official data to media companies on their behalf. For NASCAR that would be the Official Scoring and Timing Feed; for NFL it is the official play-by-play and Next Gen Stats (player tracking), and for NHL it is the HITS Feed. These data feeds power the live scores and stats you see on the web or your mobile device, as well as fantasy games and second screen apps.

Why did you decide to enter the eSports vertical?

Sportradar is committed to bringing exclusive content, such as eSports data, to market. We believe that eSports is going to be a key strategy for digital media companies as they look to attract Millennials and broaden their audiences. The feedback we are getting is tremendous, and I think we will have numerous eSports case studies to share over the coming year.

How are you working with established leagues such as MLG and ESL, or publishers like Riot Games or Valve in the eSports business?

We are in discussions with a number of players in the eSports space about a number of different endeavors. However, it would not be appropriate to mention names until we are at the announcement stage. Sportradar teamed with ESL last October in a partnership covering data, as well as integrity measures. They are at the vanguard of this exciting sector and have proven to be tremendous partners.

How does your eSports API differ from other technologies out there?

To my knowledge, we will be the only source for comprehensive coverage of eSports across a wide array of games and competitions. If you are a fan of CS:GO, for example, we can provide the content so you know the player economy and who has the most assists in competition. Everyone knows how many home runs Barry Bonds hit or how many touchdown passes Peyton Manning has thrown. We’re taking that detail to eSports.

How do you see your technology impacting the eSports business?

Live data will be the key to opening up a wide array of digital enhancements for the eSports community. Real-time game centers for eSports, informative apps for your mobile devices with schedules and standings, historical stats for players and teams. These are the tools that media companies are accustomed to having for any sport they cover—from NFL to MLB to NBA—with great depth. There is a big opportunity with brands because they can use our data and solutions to promote their products to millennials. I could go on and on.

What similarities are you seeing between working with established leagues and eSports companies and how this data is used?

Reliable, fast, and accurate data ensures that media companies have the tools to cover eSports in the same manner as they would traditional sports. Sportradar’s data feed provides key data points such as statistics, results, and play-by-play for all the leading game titles and tournaments, including CS:GO, Dota 2, League of Legends and StarCraft II.

What role, if any, does this data play for the growing Fantasy Sports and betting businesses, both of which eSports is now part of?

While our parent company (Sportradar AG) serves a multitude of customer segments globally, Sportradar US is solely focused on serving digital, media, technology, and fantasy customers and does not serve bookmakers. Data is essential in powering a fantasy platform. Players expect to have immediate gratification when their player performs well. Our data for traditional sports power the big fantasy players. We plan on supporting the eSports fantasy community the same way.

Overseas, we are very proud to be leading global anti-match-fixing efforts by developing and delivering a fully tailored eSports monitoring system. Our partnership with the world’s leading eSports tournament organizer, ESL, enables us to leverage eSports data to power a Fraud Detection System that is completely tailored to monitor all the relevant traditional and specialist betting markets around the world.

What impact has having Mark Cuban on the advisory board had on this eSports endeavor?

Truth be told, we were well down the eSports path before Mark joined our U.S. advisory board this past October. Now that he is on our team, Mark has been a tremendous advocate for the direction we’ve taken. He believes eSports has a big future, obviously, having invested heavily in eSports companies in addition to his sports data investment with Sportradar. He is very active on our behalf and it’s really a tremendous asset to have his knowledge and experience working for Sportradar.


[a]listdaily Weekly: Spotify ‘Shows’ Off; Facebook Under Fire

This time on [a]listdaily Weekly we’re talking music, video games and (uh, oh) Facebook scandals. (And we’re not talking about that embarrassing Christmas party photo.)

Spotify is branching out into the world of digital video, producing 12 new original shows. The music-centric programming will include a documentary series covering pivotal music industry moments and Rush Hour, a Russell Simmons project chronicling the progress of two hip-hop artists. Although music will remain the main focus for Spotify, they are determined to get a piece of that digital ad spending pie. Since digital ad revenue is expected to reach $13.3 billion in 2020, there will probably be more than enough pie to go around, too. Hmm. Pie.

Digital Newfronts gave brands a chance to present their new programs to ad-buyers last week, with enough song and pizzazz to rival the presentation of Simba in The Lion King. From social media to virtual reality and everything in between, one thing was certain—digital has become the new TV. eSports was a hot topic this year, as Activision Blizzard showcased the Enhanced Viewing Experience to advertisers for the first time. 

Speaking of Blizzard, the video game giant who brought World of Warcraft to the masses is gearing up for the launch of Overwatch—their first person shooter, 17 years in the making. Rather than exclaim, “LEROY JENKINS” and burst onto the scene, however, Blizzard has rolled out some serious marketing campaigns in preparation for the launch. The company has partnered with Taco Bell and Razer, created a Buzzfeed personality quiz, released a Pixar-quality animated short and offered an open beta. Fans attending PAX East had the chance to ride a series of Overwatch-branded Uber vehicles, including a single-seater Lamborghini. We’re still waiting for a partnership with Dairy Queen for some Blizzard-on-Blizzard action, though. Mmm. Ice cream.

5 Ways ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ Has Audiences Flocking To Theaters

The Angry Birds Movie is set to launch this weekend in the U.S., and if its reception is anything like the international openings (which have already pulled in $43 million), then we could be looking at a big, bright future for the a franchise that started as a mobile game and turned into a global phenomenon. The game developer, Rovio, has invested $113 million into the film production, which stars Jason Sudeikis (Saturday Night Live; Horrible Bosses) Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Bill Hader (Inside Out; Superbad) and Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live; Bridesmaids). Additionally, the company has worked with Sony Pictures Entertainment to create a marketing push that’s worth an estimated $400 million. That makes it one of the biggest campaigns ever for a Sony animated movie.

Here are some of the top promotions that are helping The Angry Birds Movie launch into theaters on May 20.

Seeing Red

Although the Angry Birds franchise is immensely popular, with millions of fans all over the world, it still needed to make its movie characters known. To help make a big impression, Red (the movie’s main character) got his own float in the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It helped to get the word out about the movie, and it helped grow awareness of the movie.

Furthermore, Rovio worked with Lego to produce The Angry Birds Movie playsets that feature all characters from the movie, along with constructs like the ship, a castle, and a handy catapult, so that birds and pigs can battle over coveted eggs. The fun is extended even further with the Piggy Smash Challenges, where fans are encouraged to watch a collection of animated story videos and recreate the associated challenge tasks using their playsets.

Getting Audiences To Theaters

Historically, movies based on video games haven’t done very well at the box office, but The Angry Birds Movie hopes to overcome that by including some extra incentives to watch the movie in theaters, instead of waiting for it to release for home video. In partnership with AMC Theatres, the movie released an animated video detailing all the benefits of going out to the movies with friends.

However, the best incentive is a free-to-play pinball-inspired mobile game called Angry Birds Action!, where players control Red as he “smashes and crashes through obstacles and bounces from wall to wall like a wrecking ball—all in the name, of course, of saving precious and fragile eggs.” The movie’s end credits will include an inaudible embedded digital watermark that audiences can scan using their smartphones to unlock extra content.

Hunting For BirdCodes

Scanning The Angry Birds Movie‘s end credits is just one way to unlock content. Other ways include BirdCodes—an augmented reality experience that can be found in a wide variety of products. There are over a billion BirdCodes out there, distributed through partners such as Lego, H&M, McDonald’s and Pez.


One BirdCode is included in each of the six The Angry Birds Movie Lego sets. They can also be found in specially themed McDonald’s Happy Meals to unlock mini-games and other content. Scanning certain designs on H&M apparel will also unlock BirdCodes, and that’s just the start. Rovio is working with over 100 partners worldwide to promote both the Angry Birds Action! and the movie. Other retailers participating in the augmented reality scavenger hunt include Walmart and Toys ‘R’ Us, along with retailers one wouldn’t necessarily associate with a children’s movie promotion, such as the Novotel European hotel chain, Home Depot, HSBC and Telefonica.

Having Fun With Ziploc

Ziploc might seem like an unlikely partner for an The Angry Birds Movie promotion, but it makes sense when you realize that kids need to put their lunches somewhere. It might as well be in an Angry Birds limited edition Ziploc sandwich bag. Purchasing any two Ziploc products until June 3 will earn you $5 off a ticket to see The Angry Birds Movie.


The company takes the fun even further with instructions on how to throw an Angry Birds-themed kids’ party, including printable cake toppers, (Ziploc) goodie bag toppers, and a “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” game featuring characters from the movie.

Egg Savers

What would be an Angry Birds promotion without including a mobile game from the franchise that started it all? Rovio is hosting a two-week Angry Birds Friends tournament, featuring 12 all-new levels inspired by the movie. The game is available to download for free for both iOS and Android, so you can see how many eggs you can save before heading out to see how Red and his friends overcome the Piggies.

How The Netflix Model Is Shaping Ad-Consumption (Or Lack Thereof)

Netflix now has over 75 million subscribers who are streaming around 125 million hours of content per day. While original content and value certainly play into the platform’s success (not to mention password-sharing abound), perhaps the most significant selling point for Netflix is the lack of commercial interruption. In fact, Netflix saves its viewers around 160 hours of commercials per year, according to a recent calculation by Cord Cutting.

From Nielsen, we know that a typical hour of cable TV includes 15 minutes, 38 seconds – or 938 seconds – of commercials. Multiply that figure by 1.67 repeating and you get 1,563.3 (also repeating) seconds of commercials per day. That’s 570,616.7 seconds per year, which works out to 158.5 hours. So each subscriber saves him or herself about 160 hours of commercials per year by streaming their content through Netflix.

Since the time of radio serials when Little Orphan Annie urged children to drink more Ovaltine, broadcasting has been shaped by its advertisers. While product placement on television and in movies are on the rise, the ability to avoid commercial interruption has become a priority to consumers. In response to this demand, streaming services like Hulu and YouTube are now offering subscription options with little to no advertisements.

Netflix original content and commercial-free streaming has earned them 75 million subscribers. (Source: Netflix)

So, are commercials a bad word now? Absolutely not, but its increasing lack of popularity is forcing marketers to shape their campaigns in a more interactive or entertaining way. Advertising for digital content is actually growing, as we witnessed at Newfronts last week. According to a report by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), advertisers and media buyers have invested 114 percent more in original digital video programming over the past two years.

Rather than focus on commercial interruption, brands are teaming up to create original content, which creates brand-awareness in a less-intrusive way. But what about TV? Although it can be painful to sit through a three-minute list of horrific side effects for the latest drug, there are many who choose not to pay for ad-free content. This just means that to avoid the mute or fast forward button, those commercial interruptions need to be more effective.

Rather than shove a product into the consumer’s face, brands are now moving toward frontline marketing, which focuses primarily on consumer relationships. As the digital age changes the way we consume entertainment, ad consumption is also affected. Although this poses challenges, it also opens up tremendous opportunities to innovate in how brands connect with their audiences.

Newzoo: Asian Markets Generate Half Of Global Video Game Revenue

Games have become a market that generates billions of dollars each year, and the Asian market is slowly but surely becoming the biggest player in the game.

A new report from Newzoo, titled Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report, suggests that 45 percent of the overall $99.6 billion global games market this year will be generated by Southeast Asia, including China, Japan and South Korea. It also notes that approximately 55 percent of all mobile game revenues will come from these key markets.

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The report also notes that Asian public companies managed to generated $36.2 billion last year, with 32 percent ($11.4 billion) coming outside of Asia. Half of this total came from Sony and Nintendo by themselves, with offerings for the PlayStation 4, 3DS and Wii U. Tencent was also a big player outside of Asia, generating $1.3 billion on its own, approximately 15 percent of overall business.

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As for which games are set to make the most money, 36 percent of the overall $45 billion total revenue will come from smartphones (totaling around $16 billion), followed by 35 percent from the PC/MMO market and 11 percent from console-based sales.

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Tencent continues to be the leader in Asian company profits, with $8.7 billion in 2015, a rise from its $7.2 billion the year prior; Sony, NetEase and Nintendo are close behind, each posting a small but steady profit from the previous year.

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Image Source

Marketers Look To Invest More Money Into Instagram

Over the past few months, the team at Instagram has put numerous initiatives into motion to make it an ideal place for marketers and advertisers. According to a new report, these initiatives are paying off in spades.

Business Insider reports that numbers reported by Socialfresh (in collaboration with Firebrand Group and Simple Measured) suggest that 30 percent of those polled advertise on Instagram at least once a month, running about the same level as advertising for Twitter. While it’s still at about half the level of Facebook advertising, it’s still a steady increase of effectiveness for the photo/video social platform.


The numbers show that Instagram’s growth is not only steady, but also looking to continue, as over one in four digital marketers have a plan to invest more money in Instagram over the next twelve months. It’s also worth noting that, as popular as it is with its millions of viewers, Snapchat is still on the lower end of the spectrum, with around 4.1 percent growth compared to Instagram’s 29.5 percent.

That’s a huge amount of progress in just under a year’s time, when Instagram announced its plans to open the doors for advertising on its site. It’s since gathered more than 200,000 monthly active advertisers, utilizing its video and dynamic ad formats in effective ways.

The report also notes that time spent watching videos has increased by more than 40 percent over the last six months, providing even bigger opportunities for investors to get their feet in the door with potential consumers. Socialfresh also noted that video is the second most popular content when it comes to ROI demonstration, behind the popular image posts in the number one spot.

There are several takeaways from the report, including the following:

  • Native-display ads, including social native and native ads in-feed on publisher websites, will make up the bulk of native ad revenue from 2016-2021. Native display ad revenue in the US will rise at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent during this time period to eclipse $36 billion. The rise of native video ads, particularly on social platforms, will be one of the main drivers of this growth.
  • Social platforms generate most of their revenue from native ads and will continue to dominate overall native ad spending through 2021. The dominance of social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat on mobile devices, where the entire experience is within a feed, will help propel social’s contribution to overall native ad revenue through 2021.
  • Sponsored content, which is categorized separately from native-display due to the direct relationship between publishers and brands in creating the format, will be the fastest-growing native format over the next five years. However, the high cost to produce these ads and the limitation in inventory will limit the format.

Instagram’s numbers should certainly improve over the next few years, given its convenient ad format, millions of users, and, of course, potential for companies big and small to shine.

2K Sports Dunking Into ESports With StreamCast

It seems like a lot of companies have taken the plunge into eSports as of late, such as Activision with the Call of Duty: World League; now 2K Sports is hitting the rim with its own initiative, with an eSports focus around its best-selling basketball game, NBA 2K16. The publisher recently announced a new streaming service that will enable owners of both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles to check out the latest in the 2K Pro-Am competition.

The service, called 2K StreamCast, will launch on May 21, the same day that the Road to the Finals kicks off. Fans will be able to tune in and watch teams participate in the Pro-Am, in the hopes of walking away with a $250,000 cash prize. Teams will compete across three tournament games and a console final on both PS4 and Xbox One, with the Grand Final pitting the winning teams against one another in a winner-take-all contest. The winning team will also go to game one of the NBA Finals. Contests will be available for live viewing and will also be kept on-demand if fans want to see specific players in action

This is a similar feature to watch Treyarch introduced with Call of Duty: Black Ops III, where players could tune in to World League match-ups by selecting an option on the main menu of the PlayStation 4 version. Its eSports factor is effective when it comes to drawing in viewers, especially with the convenience of watching through their console of choice instead of needing to boot up a secondary video viewer.

It’s an interesting first step for 2K Sports into the world of eSports, something that could be further established with the company’s future efforts, including WWE 2K17 and NBA 2K17. 2K has yet to announce plans to include StreamCast for other games, choosing to focus on its NBA 2K16 competition for now.

Zeality Founder Discusses Opportunities For Brands Through 360-Degree Content

Zeality is a new social engagement and delivery platform for 360-degree video content. The company is already working with brands such as the San Francisco 49ers, Visa, RYOT News, and Reebok to leverage this new medium. Zeality is also open to content creators and producers interested in telling 360-degree stories and monetizing their content. The platform is currently available for iOS and Android virtual reality devices, including Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR.

The company has been formed with a team of veterans from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the ad business. And its advisory board is filled with executives from these three industries, as well. Zeality co-founder and CEO Dipak M. Patel explains how his company can help brands navigate the new 360-degree waters in this exclusive interview.

What separates Zeality from Wistia 360, Facebook 360, YouTube 360, and other platforms?

We see content and media becoming increasingly instrumental in the way we teach, entertain and discover. As a result, user experiences need to evolve, with relevant content being presented in a more intelligent way. Over time, we’re looking to differentiate how a user experiences 360 content, not just deliver it to them. We have a lot coming down the road, however what’s available now is the ability for creators to gate access to their content with customized access levels. For example, for episodic content, let’s say a user can’t access Episode 2 unless they watch Episode 1, and they can’t watch Episode 3 unless they recommend four friends. We can, and will, work with partners to customize how their fans and audiences activate content.

How are you working with early clients like Visa, the San Francisco 49ers, RYOT News, and Reebok with 360-degree video content?

Beyond simply hosting and delivering content, we’re playing an active role in programming our experience and marketing partner content to specific communities. Our goal is to work with our partners to develop marketing campaigns for their content to drive activation, as we want to help create awareness for campaigns versus just being a big bucket in the sky. For example, we have worked with Visa, RYOT, and the San Francisco 49ers to develop social campaigns to drive their fans and audiences to their respective channels on Zeality.

What kind of engagement do you see for 360-degree content versus traditional video?

Zeality only carries 360-degree content, but in comparing 360-degree versus traditional video, we’ve observed both amazement and frustration when users consume 360-degree content. The amazement comes from the fact that it’s new and cool, and then users start genuinely wondering how it’s done. It quickly becomes frustrating because consumers have been trained to be “directed,” versus going on self-guided tours of videos. We see this new type of content disrupting the art of storytelling and the mode of consuming. Both need to learn from each other, and it’s going to take time for 360-degree video to become interesting enough to hold the attention of consumers versus traditional video.

Will your platform support PC and PlayStation VR headsets beyond the Android and iOS mobile VR?

We’re big fans of 360-degree video, VR, and AR. And yes, our roadmap will eventually support a variety of HMDs (head-mounted displays). We feel there’s a lot of work still left to do in creating awareness for 360-degree experiences and how to create them, so one of our directives is to increase education and discovery, and also help build a strong community of content creators.

Most people are still viewing 360-degree content on tablets and 2D devices. How do you see that evolving over time?

When my 7-year-old daughter was 2, she would walk up to our television and try to swipe as if it were an iPad. Now my 2-year-old son holds my phone and moves it around as if every video is a window to another place. Without a doubt, I do see this evolving over time. I think adoption will occur over generations and be influenced by technology innovation. This is why we’re so focused on the art of storytelling and engagement in this new medium.

What are the opportunities in 360-degree video today?

We think there is a tremendous opportunity for 360-degree video today. Education, entertainment, sports media, travel, social impact, and news to start, but more categories will most certainly appear. These are all opportunities to explore the medium as an art form and build a deeper relationship between the stories and communities. And of course, some folks will focus on videos of cats, or the current version of them.

What are the challenges, especially with editing this content?

There are two new elements to the workflow: data management/syncing and stitching. This adds a tremendous burden on quick turnaround projects not only from a time and cost perspective, but also a go-to-market perspective. Luckily, there are a handful of companies—Nokia, Orah, and Sphericam are a few great examples—that are solving these issues by consolidating features in new cameras. I believe that over time, possibly as early as the next few months, these tools will get better.

How is your company bridging the gap between Silicon Valley and Hollywood?

I believe that we’re experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime disruption, and we have an opportunity to create a whole new type of company. Many would agree that over the years, Silicon Valley and Hollywood have been at odds with each other, essentially because one values technology and innovation while the other values content and creativity. Furthermore, the fundamental investment vehicles and ecosystems that support both are completely different. For example, Silicon Valley invests in stock and increasing the value of that stock. Hollywood invests in rights and distribution, and creates companies to capture revenue from licensing and other means. For Zeality, we want to bring these forces together to create the ultimate collaboration between creative/content and tech/innovation in terms of culture, product development and go-to-market.

How will the new wave of both professional and consumer 360 cameras impact this ecosystem?

The new wave of professional and consumer 360-degree cameras are going to have an incredible impact on the ecosystem, but ultimately, the medium requires the storytellers to start from the ground up. They’re not filming in a frame and they have to re-imagine the role of the protagonist in these stories. From a professional storytelling perspective, I’m a big fan of what Sphericam, Orah, and Nokia are doing. For the more user-generated stuff, I think you’re going to see a larger variety of options out there, but regardless of what sort of equipment they use, it will be great to see what sort of content is created when the creator is unencumbered by existing film-making norms. Whatever happens, it’s great to have all these options available to aspiring and professional content creators.


Crunchyroll Explains Their Strategic Partnership With Loot Crate

Crunchyroll is an American website and community for Asian media, specializing in anime and manga. Founded nine years ago, this one-stop-shop for big-eyed characters and dramatic fight scenes delivers content to over 20 million users worldwide.

Anime is full of powerful dream teams, so Crunchyroll recently joined forces with Loot Crate to further their brand outreach. The result is a revamped version of Loot Crate’s Loot Anime subscription, filled with specially themed merchandise and Crunchyroll’s signature orange and black coloring on the box. May’s theme, for example, is “Unity,” and celebrates anime franchises with powerful teams like Dragon Ball ZFull Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood and The Boy and the Beast.

The new Anime Crate features Crunchyroll items and branding. Source: Lootcrate
The new Loot Anime box is filled with Crunchyroll-chosen items and branding. (Source: Loot Crate)

[a]listdaily spoke with Dallas Middaugh, head of brand and community at Crunchyroll, who explains the power of their new partnership with Loot Crate.

In a February interview with IGN, you mentioned “exclusive benefits.” Are you able to elaborate on what that entails?

There are basically two benefits to subscribers with this partnership. The first is the $5 discount on the Loot Anime box for Crunchyroll members. But if you’re already a Loot Anime subscriber and not yet a Crunchyroll member, and given that a Crunchyroll subscription costs $6.95, it means that you essentially can become a Crunchyroll member for $2. The second benefit is that we’re helping Loot Anime to curate and stock the boxes, and we have connections to literally every anime producer in Japan. We can help the Loot Anime team anticipate what’s going to be the next big thing, and also help them get new stuff from the hottest current and past anime.

Is there a particular anime or manga series that you are especially excited to promote through this Loot Anime partnership?

Not fair! It’s like you’re asking us to pick our favorite child. Just looking at this season, we have so many great titles. Twin Star Exorcists is currently our most-watched anime, and it’s just getting started. Re: ZERO is a fantastic, fun twist on the ‘normal guy gets dropped into a video game world’ genre. This summer, we have the classic Berserk which has a new anime series starting in July. Look, we release 40-to-60 anime series every quarter! We’d love to see all of them in the box at some point, but that would have to be a pretty big box!

How do you hope the Loot Anime crate will expand Crunchyroll’s brand outreach?

It helps us in two ways. First, it’s a great perk for being a Crunchyroll subscriber. If you weren’t already interested in Loot Anime, now you can get it for a discount. Or if you were already subscribing to Loot Anime, the discount means you’re getting your Crunchyroll subscription for $2. Second, Crunchyroll consistently carries the majority of anime that releases every season. Not just the top titles, but also the lesser known (but much loved) lower tier anime that wouldn’t get an official release outside of Japan without Crunchyroll. We can now help get official merchandise for so many shows into the hands of fans—merchandise that might not have been released if it weren’t for this partnership.

In your opinion, what makes anime increasingly popular worldwide as an entertainment and pop culture art form?

Anime has been a fundamental part of Japanese culture for several decades, and it’s been an increasing part of worldwide culture over the past 25-plus years. You can make several arguments as to why, ranging from the coolness factor to the accessibility of the art. But in the end I believe it comes down to compelling stories and characters. Good stories and good animation is universal, and a lot of anime is very entertaining.

The Loot Anime box is new, but have you noticed an increase in premium memberships as a result of the partnership yet?

As mentioned, the reception by fans to the benefit has been great thus far, and the benefit is very compelling. While it’s early to determine the impact—the discount went live less than two weeks ago—we do anticipate a significant uptick in subscription for both Crunchyroll and Loot Anime.

What is the most important message you want to convey to those who are curious about anime or manga but don’t know where to start?

Come to Crunchyroll and poke around—we offer both anime and manga in abundance. A lot of the new fans of anime came in by watching Attack on Titan, so that’s a great place to start as we offer both the complete first season of the anime, and the latest chapters of the manga from which it was created.

Buster Posey Shows You How To Be Smart Through Esurance’s Partnership With MLB

Esurance has turned a double play with Major League Baseball once again, announcing that the second year of their multi-year partnership will continue through two new commercials featuring Giants catcher Buster Posey, and the return of an all-digital All Star Game ballot.

“The digital consumption for baseball surpasses any other sport offering right now,” Chris Lee, director of brand partnerships and social engagement at Esurance, told [a]listdaily. “They’re inspired to change the way people consume baseball, and we’re trying to do the same thing with auto insurance. We’re both trying to take an old process, and make it more modern.”

A focal point to the Bay Area-based, digital-born insurance company’s “Smart People Get Esurance” partnership with baseball is their advertising opportunities with Posey, the three-time World Series champion for San Francisco.


The commercials, titled “New Digs” and “Chicken Strips,” provide a comedic take on the “smart choices” the former Rookie of the Year and MVP makes in order to save money—from washing socks in a hot tub to hoarding skybox chicken strips. Esurance will also unveil three social media videos in a “What would Buster do?” series. The vignettes feature clips like “Bullfighter,” which demonstrate things the three-time All Star wouldn’t do at the plate.

“I really enjoy working with the Esurance team. For the second year running, they’ve been great partners, with a product I trust for my family,” said Posey, who last year wanted to help a couple deliver a baby in his catcher’s mitt.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told [a]listdaily earlier this year that adopting modern technology is paramount to growing the game. Doing so with subtle intricacies as a paperless ballot for the midsummer classic in San Diego is just another step in that direction.

Fans who vote will simultaneously enter for a chance to win a VIP experience at the all star game. Esurance will also be engaging attendees through the FanFest and the Pepsi All-Star Week Block Party.

Lee, who’s been at the helm of Esurance’s brand sponsorships efforts since 2012, joined [a]listdaily to discuss why MLB is the right partner for the digital-born company, and how they’re engaging consumers.


Baseball is historically a sport that’s been technologically behind. However, in recent years, it’s also been doing a better job by embracing new media. Why does MLB work so well for Esurance as a partner?

That was a big focal point for the start of the relationship with them. You’re right, there sometimes is a perception that baseball is an ‘old’ sport. But what their focus is really about is ‘what’s next for baseball?’ For starters, with MLB Advanced Media’s At Bat app, they’re leaders in the industry. It’s cutting edge. From a national perspective, baseball is great for us. MLB is our national partner. We did our homework to find that core audience and demographic, and align the consumer. Baseball is really trying to focus on fan demographics. With Esurance being based in the Bay Area, Buster Posey is a great fit for us, too. We’ve also done a lot of work with tennis in years past. The influencer space is very important to us, and it’s something we’ll continue to build upon, whether it’s baseball, or something else.

What are you looking for when considering and negotiating brand partnerships?

We really spend a lot of time figuring out what the brand equities are. We have our story. We have things that we’re trying to accomplish. We try to parallel-path that with other brands or properties we work with. With MLB, they are a huge partner. We found brand equity. They’re trying to modernize the game of baseball. It’s all about digital consumption and social media, which is very fitting from our standpoint as well. We’re both traditional industries trying to do things in a modern way. With all of the partners we work with, like Mashable, Deloitte, Capital One, it’s about finding that right fit with modern brands who are trying to push innovation and do unique things, like leveraging each other’s audiences. Very quickly, you figure out the brands who get it and understand it, and the ones who don’t.

Every insurance company does not have an online-only identity like Esurance. That said, who do you consider your competitor?

I think all insurance companies are competitors, right? But we’re not based on a direct-consumer level like many of our competitors.


At SXSW earlier this year, Esurance was a title sponsor. What was your strategy going in?

We try to reflect the fact of being intuitive and innovative in everything we do. SXSW is one of the most overwhelming events you can go to as a consumer. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out ‘what is it that we can do as a brand to help make the experience better.’ Prizes and stuff, that’s great. It’s cool to give away cool things. We gave away a Mazda CX-3 Sport vehicle this year. But we also focused on giving attendees personalized schedules, VIP access to a lot of the events, and such. We introduced the Esurance Access Pass program four years ago. It allows consumers to use Twitter and skip the line at the festival’s hottest parties. We’re leveraging social to communicate with the audience, and it’s come to the point where they now expect it. It’s been nice to build that community. The key is consistency, and for them to have that expectation from us. On top of that, we are pushing it forward every year in new dimensions.

What were the key takeaways and trends you noticed from the festival this year?

I think you’re seeing it now—virtual reality is everywhere. We’ve done some stuff with VR in other activations—like with the San Francisco 49ers two years ago. We were one of the first brands to test that space. But that technology is still being developed, so that it can be more consumable and accessible. But I noticed about 15-to-20 people showcasing VR. Also, everyone is leveraging social. The world of sponsorships and social is kind of blurred at this point. You can’t have one without the other. It’s very rare to do anything strictly on-site anymore. Social is almost like currency to gain access to information.


How do you reach a customer base that can oftentimes be finicky?

From a sponsorship standpoint, we’re trying to show who we are as a brand. We’re smart. We’re efficient. We save you time. We address a lot of the pain points that people have, but also translate it over to the purchase and handle your policy. We’re an online company, so we have the tools and technologies. The process is a lot more intuitive for today’s customer. So we have mobile apps, and you can find everything online. We provide the education so you can understand a lot better, and make it as easy and simple as possible.

We’re always trying to do things in a modern way. At activation spaces [like SXSW earlier this year], we don’t use sponsorships to ask people to sign up for a quote or policy. We don’t do that because we understand that is not the mindset of the consumer when they’re at an event. What we’re trying to do is create a deeper connection with consumers, and engage with them in a certain way. Because we are an online company, a lot of times a sponsorship is sometimes the only physical representation that a consumer has for a brand—to actually see, touch and feel. We hope that when they walk away, the impact will make them consider us as an insurance option partner down the line. We like to play advocates in a lot of ways.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan