How Insurance Companies Are Attracting Millennials

Brands sure hear a lot about millennials and how this enormously influential consumer base drives marketing decisions. Insurance companies have found a unique approach to reaching this sought-after generation by sponsoring something they love—sports. Thirty-five percent of younger millennials say they like advertising during sports programming and tend to watch it, according to a study by The Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg and ThePostGame. In addition, 56 percent say they believe advertising gives them “useful information about products and services.”

State Farm

State Farm, a sponsor of the NBA since 2010, partnered with Yahoo Sports this basketball season to connect with hoops fans by engaging them through custom integrations in video, native and display ads and more across Yahoo Sports as part of its Right Combination campaign, featuring NBA stars such as Clippers guard Chris Paul. The campaign places special focus on sports site The Vertical with Woj and sponsors editorial coverage like the Front Office Insider column from Bobby Marks. In 2017, the State Farm campaign will also capitalize on special events on Yahoo Sports such as the NBA Draft in June. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, Blazers star Damian Lillard and Paul star in a series of commercials that show how parallels between the court and the home don’t always add up to a good thing.


AllState kicked off the New Year in style with its 11th annual Fan Fest in New Orleans, celebrating college football with the masses. For the first time, Allstate Fan Fest was broadcast live on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2017” but the real fun was had in person through live concerts, school pep rallies, marching bands and various family-friendly activities. The night culminated in a fleur-de-lis drop at midnight in Jackson Square.

The insurance brand is no stranger to athletic sponsorships and sports-themed advertising. AllState actively sponsors college football, college basketball and soccer worldwide. Sports analyst Kirk Herbstreit even starred in a number of humorous “apology” videos for a serious of fictional mishaps in 2012 related to the 60-seconds of Mayhem sweepstakes. The lovable rascal Mayhem, played by Dean Winters, got his own sports-themed commercial last fall.


To promote its eSports sponsorship, Geico produced a mockumentary-style series on YouTube about League of Legends team, SoloMid (TSM) and an obnoxious neighbor who can’t get enough of these young gamers’ attention. Aside from receiving a shipment of Geico swag in the first episode, the company doesn’t shove its branding down the throat of viewers. Rather, the adventures of TSM and Russell are stories as presented by the team, and we learn through the rather desperate eyes of Russell as he explores this new world of competitive gamers and becomes the butt of practical jokes.


Online insurer Esurance currently has a multi-year partnership with MLB and last year produced two commercials starring three-time World Series champion Buster Posey and also was the presenting sponsor of the All-Star Game. It’s probably no coincidence that Esurance was founded in the San Fransciso Bay area and Posey is the Giants’ catcher. It’s this kind of homegrown loyalty that speaks to audiences on an emotional level, especially sports fans.

“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.”


Allianz and the Drone Racing League (DRL) announced a global multi-year partnership last week. The investment, retirement and life insurance company will now sponsor the Allianz World Championship 2017 series, consisting of six races to be aired in over 75 countries starting this June. The championship will feature the world’s top pilots as they race their drones at over 90 miles per hour through a series of 3D race courses.

“The pursuit of innovation and calculated risk taking are the reasons insurance was invented in the first place. Allianz is proud to be partnering with DRL, a true pioneer of today’s digital driven sports,” said Jean-Marc Pailhol, Allianz SE head of group market management and distribution in a statement. “Drones are already an important part of our business so we’re excited to align with DRL as they harness the latest technological advancements and re-imagine what racing in the 21st century looks like.”

Health Insurance Marketplace

Ahead of the December 15 enrollment deadline for health insurance, the US Government assembled a team of video game influencers to deliver the message. For the first time ever, our nation’s capitol held an eSports and gaming marathon—the White House Competitive Gaming Event—which was livestreamed on Twitch in a four-hour special event hosted by Twitch programming manager and streamer, Anna Prosser Robinson.

“Gamers definitely live a more sedentary life, but it’s important to realize that anything can happen at any moment,” Twitch streamer, Angela Parker (ThatChickParker) told [a]listdaily at the event. “One unfortunate incident could put you in debt for the rest of your life. Right now, we think we’re invincible, but we need to think about the long term.”


262 Billion Minutes Of Video Were Watched On Twitch In 2016

Here at [a]listdaily, you might say that we “nerd out” a little at the possibility of statistics, but for everyone else, Twitch has made its 2016 retrospective a bit more fun. A “freak sandstorm” has scattered the site’s year-end report across four video game worlds. To access them, users can traverse these worlds in a virtual car, learning tidbits of information along the way—like which games were the most popular and the trends that popped up throughout the year.

Pokémon GO, for example, became the first mobile game to top the Twitch charts. “It was a short but memorable stay,” notes the game. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) held its position as the most-viewed first-person shooter last year and the most-viewed new game was by far Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch.

TwitchCon entertained over 35,000 attendees last year, and 10,348 people downloaded the official TwitchCon app.

An amazing 262 billion minutes of video were watched on Twitch last year across 2.2 million unique streamers. The most popular clip? This one, of streamer Avaail playing Pokémon GOThe site saw more than a million free channel subscriptions through the year. Anyone who’s viewed a livestream on Twitch knows that the chat box is the major hub for audiences to provide feedback and talk among themselves. 2016 saw a total 14.2 billion chat messages sent and that includes chats that affect gameplay—Automod features are currently active in nearly 10 percent of all chats, Twitch reported. The most used emote (Twitch emoticon) at 413 million times was “Kappa”—the face of then employee, Josh DeSeno commonly used to infer sarcasm.

Beginning last summer, fans could “cheer” for their favorite streamers by purchasing Bits—special emoji used in the chat room that can also be used with hashtags to raise funds for various causes. Twitch reports that last year, 590 million total bits were cheered and generous viewers raised a total of $25.3 million through the site.


ESports Is Gunning For A Seat At The Fabled Table Of Traditional Sports

LeBron James. Tom Brady. Clayton Kershaw. Sidney Crosby.

These athletes are household names to a cavalcade of sports fans around the world, but for eSports fans, they might as well be a grocery bagger at the local market. Because for them, it’s all about the likes of Spencer “Hiko” Martin, Seth “Scump” Abner, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, Zhou “bLink” Yang and a pack of other top-tier video game players.

Among American male millennials ages 21-to-35, six million eSports fans—among the 21 million that play today—do not watch basketball, football, baseball or hockey, according to an October study by Newzoo. Seventy-six percent of eSports enthusiasts say that their video game viewership is taking away hours they used to spend on sports.

Need more fun facts for context? More people watched the final round of the League of Legends World Championships (27 million) than the series clinchers for the NBA Finals (18 million) and World Series (23.5 million) in 2014. Whether or not eSports is considered an actual sport is still up for debate by traditionalists and those already invested in video games. But there is no question that it won’t be going away anytime soon.

Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman
Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, far left.

There was a time when the only link between traditional sports and video games came from titles like Madden, FIFA and NBA 2K. No one needs to take a time out to realize that the writing is on the wall—eSports is quickly gunning for a share of the mainstream sports pie.

If an ESPY Award were to be given to the “Best Breakthrough” in 2016, it would likely go to eSports, because last year was its official coming out party. Some of the highlights on the TV side included Turner broadcasting the first season of ELeague on TBS, ESPN launching an editorial division dedicated solely to the vertical while still airing competitions, and the continued momentum in the rise of collegiate eSports, further evidenced by the Big Ten Network launching a League of Legends college season.

But if you want to have a clear view of what the future cross-pollination of traditional and digital sports will entail, look no further than a two-day stretch in late September when the owners of the Philadelphia 76ers became the first sports franchise to enter the business side of eSports by acquiring a pair of teams—Team Dignitas and Team Apex—and rolling them into the NBA organization’s structure. The following day, a “who’s who” list from entertainment (Peter Guber, Tony Robbins), sports (Magic Johnson, Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards) and technology (Ted Case, Eric Lefkofsky) acquired a controlling interest in Team Liquid.

Since that day, a full-on domino effect has ensued that feels like a Gold Rush for gaming.

The Boston Bruins entered into a strategic partnership with eSports team Splyce. The Miami Heat invested in Misfits as well as a Vainglory team. Memphis Grizzlies co-owner Steve Kaplan became a majority shareholder of Immortals. Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens is in the process of a $2.5 million acquisition. The Houston Rockets hired a director of eSports development. The San Francisco 49ers invested in Plays.TV. Owners of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys continue to pursuit eSports teams, too, just as a host of soccer clubs around the world already have.

Former Lakers teammates Kobe Bryant and Rick Fox, who won three championships together. Fox has previously said, “I’d love to pull him into Echo Fox. That’d be quite the coup.”

The leagues are taking notice as well. The latest in the series of significant proceedings came last week when the NBA and Take-Two launched NBA 2K eLeague, a professional competitive gaming league. Before that in December, MLB Advanced Media and Riot Games unveiled a $300 million streaming deal that will extend till 2023.

Granted, the Sacramento Kings, owners of Team NRG, were the first movers and at the frontline of this trend. They’ve recruited the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins as investors, and have put their money where their mouth is by designing their newly erected $558 million Golden 1 Center for eSports.

As the industry nears $1 billion and viewership grows into the umpteenth millions, eSports officially has become the next frontier for sports executives and athletes alike. The same goes for non-endemic brands like Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew, Geico, Buffalo Wild Wings, Arby’s, General Mills and Quest Nutrition—just to name a select few—who’ve successfully surveyed and satisfied the thirst of eSports natives in short order with a fresh air of authenticity.

A bevy of pro ballers have entered the lucrative industry, too, with quite a few like Kobe Bryant sitting on the bench, scouting the scene, and waiting for the opportune time to jump in.

Here are some key players in the traditional sports realm who aren’t afraid to embrace a new age of digital competition.

Rodger Saffold | The Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman and entrepreneur is the proud owner of the eSports team Rise Nation. Rise Nation has competed in global Call of Duty competitions against major contenders like OpTic and Evil Geniuses and is branching out into other games like Overwatch as well.

Rick Fox | The three-time NBA champion ran a fast break into eSports and bought a team previously known as Gravity Gaming and renamed it Echo Fox. The team focuses on League of Legends, among other titles, and has already courted sponsors like Asus.

Mark Cuban | The Dallas Mavericks owner is literally betting on eSports through the startup Unikrn in which he invested. The billionaire, who also appears on Shark Tank, has invested in a platform focused on betting in the growing competitive gaming industry wherever it’s legal.

Andy Miller, Mark Mastrov | The co-owners of the Sacramento Kings are investors in the team NRG ESports, who specializes in League of Legends. Miller previously served as vice president of mobile advertising for Apple.

Jeremy Lin, Jonas Jerebko, Gordan Heyward | This trio of forward-thinking NBA veterans are involved in eSports in a variety of ways. Nets point guard Jeremy Lin created his own eSports organization in Team VGJ (along with investment in Plays.TV), Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko purchased the eSports franchise Renegades, and Jazz star Gordan Heyward, an avid League of Legends gamer who already has endorsements from HyperX and has penned pieces making a case for eSports, is looking to pursue the business side of the industry as well.

Demetrious Johnson | The UFC champion better known as “Mighty Mouse” loves to play video games and hosts live Twitch streams for a variety of titles, but the pasttime became more than a hobby when he partnered with Northern Gaming because he believed in the future of eSports.

Ronaldo | The former Brazilian soccer legend joined a group of investors in January to acquire a 50 percent stake in Brazilian eSports organization CNB e-Sports Club. Apparently eSports is big in Brazil because fellow countryman and Puskas Award winner Wendall Lira traded his cleats for a controller when he made a career move from a real-life soccer star to FIFA eSports hopeful.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic | The Swedish soccer star has investments in Challengermode, an eSports startup that wants to bring competitive gaming accessibility to users world round, as well as a 12.5 percent stake in Isbit Game.

Trevor MayThe Minnesota Twins reliever represents North American team Luminosity Gaming on his Twitch stream. “There is so much we can learn from the world of traditional sports,” said Luminosity owner Steve Maida. “And I hope that Trevor can pass on some of his experience to our players and management.”

Russell Okung | ESports startup company Matcherino found an enthusiastic investor in the Denver Broncos offensive tackle.

Hank Baskett | The former NFL wide receiver and husband of Playboy Playmate Kendra Wilkinson joined Denial eSports as a co-owner. The avid Twitch streamer told TNL Media, “I do believe that with the growth and awareness of eSports there will continue to be those that jump into the culture because it is seen as the thing to do.”

Cloud 9 | North American eSports brand Cloud 9 closed a Series A financing round with investments from Giants outfielder Hunter Pence, former 49ers great Joe Montana and NBA veteran Andrew Bogut, owners from the Warriors and Dodgers, among several other Silicon Valley execs.

There’s no question that there currently is a Wild West feeling in eSports and competitive gaming that’s creating a confused market. Do you go after the team, the talent, or the developer? Who’s going to hold the IP rights at the end? Which stage of the investment process will yield the biggest return?

For now, everyone is throwing their name in the hat and hoping for a March Madness-like shot at winning its way through the bracket.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

How ‘Dropzone’ Shakes Up Competitive Gaming

Fast-paced strategy game fans got a big treat today with Dropzone launching on Steam Early Access today. The game is developed by Sparkypants, which is largely comprised of former Big Huge Games employees who made classic real-time strategy (RTS) games such as Rise of Nations. Dropzone is a RTS and MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) hybrid, with a particular focus on 1v1 matches that are limited to 15 minutes each.

There’s a clear scoring mechanism in Dropzone, making it an easy game for newcomers to understand. The fast-paced action should keep players hooked, as they control three heroes in fast-paced competition that feels like a cross between StarCraft and League of Legends. Whoever scores the most points in the allotted time wins. Other modes included in Early access includes 2v2 battles, contracts (daily challenge missions), and Infestation mode, where up to four players work cooperatively to defend a reactor against invading aliens.

Jason Coleman, president and studio manager of Sparkypants
Jason Coleman, president and studio manager of Sparkypants

The president and studio manager of Sparkypants, Jason Coleman, spoke with [a]listdaily about the Early Access launch and how Dropzone’s combination of both classic RTS and MOBA gameplay could make it the next big pro-competition sensation.

In talking about what inspired the creation of Dropzone, Coleman said, “we had a vision for the kind of game we would make that harkens back to our early loves, which were mostly classic RTS games like StarCraft, Age of Empires, and the game we loved developing, Rise of Nations. We loved playing and developing them, but we weren’t really playing them anymore. So, we were trying to figure out a modern version of that kind of game, which is Dropzone. One of the big pieces was coming up with a game that had a brief fix in a short time period but still felt satisfying.”

At first glance, one might think that Dropzone is a new MOBA game that’s struggling against established hits such as League of Legends or Dota 2, but Coleman explained how its gameplay stood out. “Dropzone looks like a MOBA, but when people play it, they tend to think that it feels more like StarCraft,” he said. “First of all, it’s 1v1, so it’s not team play. It’s all you against another player, which is a fairly dramatic difference. Second, everyone is controlling three heroes and map control becomes a really big deal. That’s the part where it starts to feel like an RTS and very different from a MOBA. Another thing is that the theory crafting is quite different. You have to figure out how you’re going to configure your heroes with abilities and how you’re going to play with them.”

When asked why the company decided to focus on small 1v1 matches, Coleman replied: “Primarily because this is the kind of game we like to play, and that’s what we loved about StarCraft, Age of Empires and Rise of Nations back in the day, where 1v1 was the core competitive scene. We do support other ways of playing in Early Access, where you can play casually with your friends, but we felt that this was a missing component and that people had gotten away from it. There’s a lot of virality with team play, but it’s a different experience. It’s a much more intense experience when it’s 1v1.”

As for why matches were limited to 15 minutes each, Coleman said, “a lot of that is because people are starting to move to mobile games–quick games that they can fit into their schedule. This was true for us as well.”

He continued by explaining that “we have families now, but we still love that competitive kind of play. It’s really difficult to start a game and not know whether it’ll last 30 minutes or an hour-and-a-half. We really loved having a game that could be played twenty minutes before dinner. [The time limit] also leads to some really cool stuff like tournaments, which we won’t have at the beginning of Early Access, but we’ll probably turn them on a week or two later. This sort of casualizes the tournament experience, because with a 15-minute time period, we could have a 16-person tournament in an hour or a thousand people in an evening. So, we can have these running regularly with tournaments going every day.”

With tournament support built into the game early on, we asked Coleman if he thought there was a strong chance of Dropzone being adopted as an eSport. “We think that it has all the hallmarks of being a very successful eSport,” he said. “We’ve always said that the community will decide that. But we were surprised by how quickly pros and high-level players took to the game early on. Our goal is to support that community as much as it wants to grow. It’s my personal goal to casualize the tournament play style. There’s this notion that only the most hardcore players will play tournaments, and there’s an opportunity in Dropzone for people to set up one-hour play sessions to see how far they can get in a bracket.”

We asked about whether or not it would be a challenge to maintain long-term engagement with a game that features short 1v1 matches. “In addition to the time limit, one of our goals was to avoid having the gameplay become stale, the way traditional RTS games sort of do–where there are a few styles of play and people tend to adopt them,” said Coleman. “One of the cool things about constantly introducing new abilities and gear is that there’s always experimentation to do. That’s an opportunity for fresh gameplay to emerge, with people experimenting and finding out new ways to play the meta and engage with the game.”

Lastly, Coleman discussed how the team at Sparkypants was getting the word out about Dropzone and its Early Access launch. “A lot of the work we’ve done has been in closed beta. We’ve been in closed beta for quite a while, so we have a small but rabbit pool of players who will be part of the beginning community. We’re also doing a lot of marketing and press, which will be a big push. We think that the game is going to feel very polished for Early Access, but still be something that we can improve, which will help us build a community.”

Red Bull Media House Is A Content-Creating Machine

When it comes to premium content and entertainment masked as marketing, Red Bull is arguably the brand that all of their peers want to be.

Through Red Bull Media House, the Austrian energy drink maker’s multi-platform media company that focuses on sports, culture and lifestyle globally, they’ve been at the mountain summit and planted a longstanding flag in the content and storytelling space that rivals the likes of traditional media companies.

The privately held company’s modus operandi proves a seriously cultivating notion for many brands that double as storytellers—anyone can be in the entertainment business today as a content marketer.

The scintillating action experiences they share, though, rivals no one. The jaw-dropping moments they capture in mountains, oceans and the wilderness complements their brand ethos—anything is possible with a pull of Red Bull. Images of the famous can, however, are almost always nowhere to be found.

Whether putting on concerts with Red Bull Sound Select, launching their own virtual reality platform, using drones to film shots for their live TV broadcast, procuring partnerships with Shutterstock and Reuters to align ideas editorially, or diversifying into non-sports movies, Red Bull has transformed itself from a sugary substance on the streets to an innovative and indomitable consumer brand-as-media powerhouse bringing serious content heat.

Lukas Cudrigh, senior vice president of digital at Red Bull Media House, joined [a]listdaily to detail how their standalone content arm has turned into a maxim for going well beyond a paid, interruption-based advertising model.

Lukas Cudrigh, SVP of digital at Red Bull Media House
Lukas Cudrigh, SVP of digital at Red Bull Media House

What is the message behind the Red Bull Media House? How are you using it to connect with consumers?

The story is at the heart of everything we do. The Red Bull brand is interdependent with experiences. Every story we do must reflect our brand value and brand principle. We want to bring inspiring stories to people who enjoy our content experiences and get them out there to a global audience. It’s a super exciting era right now. Everything is in motion. We are evidence that anyone can be in entertainment today. Technology has completely liberated us as traditional content producers, marketers and producers. The days of just a few media companies owning it all are long gone. Now anyone can create on the platform of the moment. We are constantly experimenting with new production tools, and new formats—but with one rule: does it advance the story and really make it better? When Red Bull becomes a traditional media player and content creator, where does this leave our audience? For us, the brand is the beacon. The best brands are instantly notable, accountable and credible. And they have a very clear message in knowing what the brand stands for. If we create these augmented experiences, then that becomes a relationship with our audience. When we hear from our audience that they want to get off the couch to go snowboarding or mountain biking after consuming our content—that’s the holy grail for us.

What is a new area of interest for the Red Bull Media House this year?

We are a full-fledged media house. We don’t need to be everywhere—but we need to be anywhere our audience is at any given time. So we need to make a pretty significant investment in building a network of consumer touchpoints, content management systems and analytic services to reach the audience with the experience they expect from us. There needs to be an agnostic approach in how we manage these platforms so that we are able to react when new ones come along. And when it works, you can really create global moments. Our heritage is in action sports and motor sports, and now, we’re branching out a bit to areas like music. ESports is an exciting dynamic. A project we’ve been focused on very much is Red Bull TV. With TV, we feel like we can reinvent the TV experience. When cable was introduced 30 years ago with HBO, MTV and CNN, they really led that innovation. Hopefully, we can be a part of that on the digital TV front. You have to know your audience, where they are and what gets them excited in order for you to become a part of their world. If you do that in new and unexpected ways, the stories become collective.

Why is eSports an attractive space for you? What kind of ownership are you trying to achieve as a non-endemic brand?

First of all, there is always a misconception that we are considered a sponsor. Look at our sports ventures. Red Bull Crashed Ice is a sport we created, own and produce. It’s our team. Just like we own our Formula 1 team. With eSports, you have athletes. There’s going to be a lot that happens with how these athletes will perform as the stakes get higher. We used to go to traditional event venues and produce it like a music show. There’s a lot of innovation as to how you produce eSports events. The same on the broadcast side. How do you actually create a media experience where you have the opportunities in an inherently digital sport with people from all over the world playing a tournament virtually? How do you make this a media experience? We see it as a lot of innovation opportunities for us to create a lot of awesome experiences. That’s our play. It’s a great opportunity to redefine television and help bring eSports along and develop it similar to when we went into action sports 30 years ago. It wasn’t as mainstream as it is right now. It’s the same with eSports.

What kind of content resonates most with the Red Bull consumer? 

We give wings to people and ideas with the unexpected and surprising. We take this concept of working with talented artists and athletes with unthinkable ideas that do incredible things and want to push the boundaries. We give them the platform to actually do it. The stories create themselves. If the stories stay true to these attributes, the audience expects it. Red Bull Stratos, Danny MacAskill or our Formula 1 car that was driven on snow is a premiere example of this for experiences that are completely out of the ordinary, yet, they are completely expected from Red Bull. The stories that stick most and inspire our audience are the mind-boggling ones that are beyond ordinary and never been seen before.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

Learn everything you need to know to invest in today’s fastest-growing media channel—Competitive Gaming and eSportson—2.16.17 in Los Angeles. Go to for more info.

‘Major’ Marketing: Paramount’s Live-Action ‘Ghost In The Shell’

On May 31, Scarlett Johansson will take over the big screen as Major Motoko Kusanagi—aka The Major—an augmented cybernetic human who leads an elite team of counter-terrorist agents in a Japanese dystopia. Paramount and Dreamworks’ Ghost in the Shell, based on the 1989 manga (Japanese comic book) and subsequent 1995 anime (Japanese animation) takes viewers into an alternate future in which humans mix freely with machines—a double-edged sword of technology that while awesome, leaves the public vulnerable against hacker attacks. (Looking at you, Internet of Things.)

Since hacking is a major theme in Ghost in the Shell, Paramount debuted its first trailer footage in an unconventional way—by “hacking” commercials for the season two finale of Mr. Robot. A total of five, 10-second teasers revealed richly colored imagery of a robotic geisha, Johansson as The Major, Takeshi Kitano as Daisuki Aramaki and enough dark shadows to make Ridley Scott shed a single, joyous tear.

“The great thing about season premieres and season finales is that they’re like live sporting events—people want to watch them in real time,” Megan Colligan, Paramount’s president of worldwide distribution and marketing, told Deadline Hollywood. “Because of the social media explosion, there’s a fear of missing out or having a plot detail spoiled. We knew with the Mr. Robot finale we’d get that extra boost of people who would be sharing on social.”

And a boost they did—12.3 million views on the official Paramount YouTube channel within days of the activation.

Despite critic accusations of “white washing” The Major by casting Johansson, Ghost in the Shell footage thus far recreates the tone and visuals of its source material, often shot-by-shot. The Mr. Robot commercial takeover was just the appetizer for fans to see the first, full-length trailer that debuted a month later, which quickly amassed millions of views. A special viewing party was held in Tokyo for the trailer, where costumes and props from the film were on display. Cast and crew took to the stage and even Johannson herself answered fan questions on social media.

Of course, the most recent social media buzz resulted from Paramount’s spot during Super Bowl LI, generating nearly 30,000 new conversations, according to media-measurement firm comScore.

Together with a poster giveaway and a brand-new trailer debuting over the weekend, it’s unlikely that this tale of cybernetic espionage will be a “ghost” at the box office.

Virtuix Is Combining Virtual Reality And ESports

Virtuix has spent the past few years developing the Omni, a motion-based gaming platform that allows virtual reality users and gamers to run and walk through video game worlds. Now the startup is creating its own games designed for multiplayer eSports competition. Omni Arena is a first-person shooter that currently includes two maps and both single-player and two-player cooperative multiplayer. An April 2017 update will add a Defend the Hill mode, where up to four players can play in 1v1 and 2v2 competitions.

Omni Arena was developed to combine the physical activity of the Omni with the thrill of eSports and the immersions of VR,” Jan Goetgeluk, founder and CEO of Virtuix, told [a]listdaily. “The game provides an adrenaline rush to the players and a visual spectacle to the audience. It’s well-suited for competitive gaming in VR arcades and gaming centers, and many of our location-based entertainment customers plan to organize Omni Arena tournaments and VR eSports leagues featuring the game. We plan to host a worldwide Omni Arena tournament later this year.”

What separates Omni Arena from current competitive gaming titles, according to Goetgeluk, is the physical nature of the Omni platform. “Omni is not only immersive but also physical, which makes it more exciting for spectators and for the players,” Goetgeluk said.

Goetgeluk has a strategy to grow virtual reality eSports through its partner in China, Hero Entertainment, which owns the Hero Pro League.

“Hero organizes major eSports events across the country featuring their mobile shooter, Crisis Action,” Goetgeluk said. “They introduced the Omni at their last event to more than 10 million viewers in Shanghai. They’ll start to create teams for the VR version of Crisis Action with Omni and schedule eSports events later this year.”

Crisis Action has over 400 million players across China and Goetgeluk said it’s the most popular mobile shooter in the country. That’s made Hero a multi-billion-dollar gaming giant in China.

“The first VR demonstration was a big hit so we know the public likes it,” Goetgeluk said. “Hero is seeing how they can build out a structure and start signing teams and pro players to make it a fixed part in Chinese eSports.”

Virtuix established an office in China with 50 employees to work with Hero, as well as the growing number of location-based VR entertainment centers and VR arcades that are being built or converted from internet gaming cafes across the country. “Location-based entertainment is massive in China,” Goetgeluk said. “It’s the main avenue for consumers to experience entertainment. People want to leave the house and be entertained. There are 140,000 internet cafes turned into VR arcades. There are half a million arcades or location-based entertainment facilities. It’s much bigger than in the US.”

While Goetgeluk believes Crisis Action would work in the US as well (it currently offers a Deathmatch mode for up to six players) he’s currently focusing on Omni Arena.

“Our biggest market in the US is location-based entertainment centers,” Goetgeluk said. “We’re working with operators who have VR arcades and entertainment centers. They want to organize leagues and competitions with our games. We’ll start with local gaming centers and organize local competitions and tournaments before we move to national competitions.”

Goetgeluk said Omni Arena’s new update will introduce team-based competitive gameplay perfect for local eSports in VR Arcades. The fact that gamers will also get a workout while playing is another selling point for this new type of competitive gaming.

“The VR arcade market is rapidly growing,” Goetgeluk said. “We get an email every day from someone opening a VR arcade somewhere who wants to use an Omni. They seem to be doing quite well in the US because we’re seeing some owners expand the number of VR arcades as well as new entrepreneurs opening them for the first time. There are also a lot of LAN Centers that are adding VR gaming.”

Omni Arena is one of the three games published by Virtuix Studios, which is also working on TRAVR: Training Ops and TRAVR: Shadow Ops. The Omni also works with third-party VR and non-VR games.

Virtuix will be at the [a]list summit. Learn everything you need to know to invest in today’s fastest-growing media channel—Competitive Gaming and eSportson—2.16.17 in Los Angeles. Go to for more info.

Getting To Know Some Of The World’s Biggest ESports Events

Although eSports have become a global phenomenon, drawing in audiences that rival traditional sports, an increasing number of non-endemic brands have been moved to take advantage of promotional opportunities. These efforts are accelerated by how major video game publishers, including Activision Blizzard and EA, are developing their own eSports divisions while investors from traditional sports are becoming involved with eSports. Additionally, with ESPN, CW, and Turner’s ELeague broadcasting tournaments on television, eSports could soon find a host of new fans from around the world.

The newest report from Newzoo estimates that global eSports viewership will grow to 385 million in 2017, with another 286 million added by 2020, and investments will more than double over the next three years. Revenues are expected to reach $257 million expected this year, with $113 million from sponsorships.

Additionally, Newzoo found that eSports enthusiasts will spend an average of $3.64 each in 2017, which includes all revenue streams. The average spending per fan on merchandise, tickets or subscriptions is $0.33 in 2017 and is expected to grow to $5.20 by 2020. Although that may be low compared to traditional, that’s because most eSports content is available for free and the amount of merchandise is small. The industry would rake in over $1 billion this year if the average direct spend per fan increased to $2.00.

Now, may be the best time for brands to become involved with the fast-growing industry. As Mike Sepso, senior vice president of Activision Blizzard Media Networks, once stated: “Data shows that eSports spectators are more engaged, and will spend twice as much on peripherals, and 30 percent more on hardware and software than players that don’t watch.”

However, potential brand sponsors will need to keep a few things in mind to properly engage with eSports audiences as they continue to grow.

Learning The Game

Like in traditional sports, every eSports fan base has its own unique energy and jargon. Brands need to learn how to best cater to that energy. Secondly, they need to understand why fans attend or tune in to eSports tournaments. Newzoo’s 2017 Global ESports Market Report shows that North America hold the largest eSports market, which could reach $607 million by 2020.

Furthermore, the majority of the enthusiastic eSports audience is young and male, with full-time jobs and a good income. ESports provides a means of reaching the millennial audience, which can’t be found on traditional platforms such as television.

Establishing A Presence

Social media platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter, are critical to engaging with viewers of a specific game. But relying on straightforward commercials to play before, during and after a tournament stream may become increasingly less effective due to how both Twitch Prime and YouTube Red allow paying subscribers to have commercial-free experiences.

Therefore, it’s important to get branding out where viewers can see them. Many will try to have their advertisements appear in the games themselves, but many developers are reluctant to make those inclusions. Instead, it’s far easier to sponsor a league, tournament, team or individual player. Returns from a sponsorship continue as sponsored individuals play off-tournament games on livestreams, which further exposes brands to an audience.

Then there are the physical banners that surround the stadium, which may become more valuable advertising space moving forward when online viewers are able to attend eSports events using VR. Or perhaps in the virtual arena, if VR games become eSports.

Last year, eSports tournaments were a major part of fan conventions such as PAX and BlizzCon, which hosted tournaments for StarCraft II, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. For the second year in a row, Sony hosted a Street Fighter V tournament, The Capcom Cup Finals, at the PlayStation Experience in December. There are few better opportunities to engage directly with eSports fans than at these large-scale conventions, where they come to meet their favorite players.

However, as nearly everyone who has experience in the field has emphasized, brands entering eSports must work with teams and organizations to establish and maintain a sense of authenticity. ESports fans can quickly sniff out and reject inauthentic brands and it can be difficult, if not impossible, to recover from that.

With that in mind, here are 5 of biggest eSports tournament of 2016:

Dota 2 – The International: When it comes to eSports, Dota 2 is practically legendary, with 16 teams coming together at the Keyarena at Seattle Center last August to compete for a prize pool that was worth over $20.7 million (the largest in eSports history). According to a June 2016 report from Newzoo, Dota 2 was the most-watched eSports game on Twitch.

League of Legends World Tournament: League of Legends remains one of the most renowned eSports games in the world. Last year’s World Championship toured the United States, with events hosted in San Francisco, Chicago and New York City before the Finals were held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The teams competed for a $6.7 million prize pool across 15 days, and the events brought in an average of 396 million total cumulative daily unique impressions, making it one of the most-watched eSports around.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – ESL One Cologne: CS:GO had a spectacular year in 2016, given that it was the featured game for ELeague and other prominent eSports tournaments. Additionally, Activision’s MLG hosted the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Championship last spring with a $1 million prize pool, selling out the Nationwide Stadium in Columbus Ohio and breaking records with 71 million video views 45 million hours of live broadcast. Furthermore, the event brought in 1.6 million concurrent viewers across OTT, web, mobile and in-game streaming.

Unlike games like Dota 2, there is no single grand CS:GO tournament. Instead, organizations such as Dreamhack, ESL and others host their own annual competitions. One of the largest and most prominent is ESL One Cologne, which had a $1 million prize pool last summer. Over 14,000 live attendees went to Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany to watch the event—and that’s on top of the 68.6 million online sessions across Twitch, Azubu, Hitbox and Yahoo, which totaled 31 million hours of content consumed. ESL also reported that TV broadcasters in Brazil, Bulgaria, Germany, Czech Republic, Finland and other Nordic and Baltic countries brought the aired the event to 31.4 million households in all regions combined.

Smite World Championship (Hi-Rez Expo): Released in 2014, the game involving battling deities launched for Xbox One in 2015 and the PlayStation 4 last year. Smite is still a relative newcomer to the eSports space, but that hasn’t stopped the game from hosting two tournaments (one for PC and the other for Xbox One) in addition to having a Paladins invitational. The championship finals were included in the Hi-Rez Expo in January, which offered over $1 million in prizes across the competitions and reached over one million concurrent viewers online.

Call of Duty World League Championships: Activision announced the Call of Duty World League in 2015, and it grew significantly in its first year. The World League Championship, which featured Call of Duty: Black Ops III, was held in September and featured a $2 million prize pool—the largest in Call of Duty history. Activision said in a statement that “worldwide peak concurrent viewership topped the previous record for Call of Duty eSports events by more than 40 percent, including previous COD Championship and Stage Finals. Combined, the Call of Duty Championship matches surpassed more than 20 million views.”

The Call of Duty World League Atlanta kicked off on February 10 with 176 teams attending to compete for a $200,000 prize pool. The event is one step leading up to the Championships in August, which will have a $1.5 million prize pool. The lowered prize pool comes in response to pro players who expressed how they preferred more tournaments throughout the year with bigger pools instead of one massive prize. Even with the reduction, this year’s total prize pool across all World League tournaments will come out to $4 million.

Learn everything you need to know to invest in today’s fastest-growing media channel—Competitive Gaming and eSportson—2.16.17 in Los Angeles. Go to for more info.

Newzoo: ESports Audience Will Reach 385 Million This Year

The eSports economy will grow to $696 million this year, according to Newzoo’s latest report—a year-on-year growth of 41 percent that will reach $1.5 billion by 2020. Brands will contribute $516 million of this growth in 2017, the analyst firm predicts, and investments will more than double over the next three years. In addition, the sales of eSports content licenses are expected to generate $95 million this year on a global scale, up 81 percent from 2016.

Consumer spending this year on tickets and merchandise will amount to $64 million, with another $98 million to be invested by game publishers through partnership deals with white-label organizers.

The World Is Watching

According to Newzoo’s 2017 Global ESports Market Reportthe global eSports audience will reach 385 million in 2017—made up of 191 million eSports enthusiasts and a further 194 million occasional viewers. This fandom is expected to keep on growing by another 50 percent, totaling 286 million by 2020. With revenues of $257 million expected this year ($113 million of which are sponsorships), North America is the largest eSports market that will reach $607 million by 2020. With its 25 million enthusiasts, North America generates twice as much revenue per year than in any other region. 

Gambling In ESports? You Bet!

“With most big betting companies already embracing eSports betting on a global scale,” Newzoo stated, “it’s possible that eSports betting alone is larger than the eSports economy itself.” Betting companies see eSports as a huge “blue ocean” opportunity and while betting on professional gaming has been around for many years, Newzoo noted, it does not require the involvement of any eSports companies to organize.

Compared to betting on traditional sports, the eSports economy stands to make significant income outside of sponsorships and media rights. Newzoo used the NFL as an example, having generated $13 billion last year—but betting and fantasy leagues around the NFL games are supposed to have made north of $50 billion.

ESports is not only growing exponentially as a new independent business and industry, it is also accelerating the convergence of various established industries,” commented Newzoo CEO Peter Warman. “For brands, media and entertainment companies, eSports provides a chance to capitalize on the favorite pastime of digital natives and millennials: playing games and watching game content. With the arrival of livestreams and events, gaming has entered the realm of broadcasters and media that can now apply their advertising business model to a market previously out of reach for them.”

Learn everything you need to know to invest in today’s fastest-growing media channel—Competitive Gaming and eSportson—2.16.17 in Los Angeles. Go to for more info.

Unwrapping This Year’s Valentine’s Day Trends

America’s favorite Hallmark holiday is just hours away, and when more love is in the air, there’s less money in our wallets—which is music to the ears of brand marketers.

If your true love is donuts, however, you could refill that wallet in a hurry. Dunkin’ Donuts is bringing out “Dunkin’ Love” with an Instagram photo contest that asks fans to share how the baked goods and coffee chain is part of their love story via the hashtag #DunkinLoveContest. The grand prize winner will receive a year’s worth of coffee and donuts, as well as $2,500. Caffeinated cupids are also encouraged to take advantage of a special iMessage card builder, two Snapchat filters, an emoji keyboard on its app and a special Facebook Live performance this evening by acoustic husband and wife band, Us The Duo.

Speaking of iMessage, Hallmark is offering free, animated Fabio Valentine’s Day stickers with the download of its eCards app. Last year, the greeting card giant partnered with AMC’s The Walking Dead to offer zombie-themed greetings for the undead lover in your life.

Burger King Israel is offering a more . . . ahem . . . adult approach to the romantic holiday by offering special Adult-only meals on Valentine’s Day after 6 pm. The 18-and-over meal includes two Whoppers, two packs of french fries, two beers and a “toy” such as blind fold or feather duster.

US consumers spent a staggering $19.7 billion last year on Valentine’s Day—a record high—but they are expected to spend less this year at around $18.2 billion according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). If this is going to be just another Taco Tuesday for you, you’re in good company—just a little more than half (53 percent) plan to celebrate the romantic holiday in 2017.

You Can’t Buy Love, But You Can Buy Candy

NRF’s annual consumer survey found the most popular gift choice to be candy (50 percent of those participating), followed by greeting cards at 47 percent. Consumers will spend the most money, however, on jewelry—$4.3 billion (given by 19 percent of shoppers), $3.8 billion on an evening out (37 percent), $2 billion on flowers (35 percent), $1.9 billion on clothing (19 percent), $1.7 billion on candy (50 percent), $1.4 billion on gift cards/gift certificates (16 percent) and $1 billion on greeting cards (47 percent). While 40 percent of consumers want the gift of an experience such as concert tickets or an outdoor adventure, only 24 percent plan to give one in 2017.

Who are the lucky recipients of these Valentine’s Day gifts? NRF found that consumers plan to spend an average $85.21 on their significant other/spouse, $26.59 on other family members such as children or parents, $6.56 on children’s classmates/teachers, $6.51 on friends, $4.27 on co-workers and (don’t forget Fido) $4.44 on pets.

Department Stores And Rainbow Roses


It may be surprising to learn that online is not the number one go-to shopping destination this year, but rather department stores at 35 percent. Twenty-seven percent of respondents indicated that they would do their Valentine’s Day shopping via the internet.

While many will make their final transactions in-person, mobile research remains a standard among consumers. In fact search engine Bing reported that 48 percent of all Valentine’s Day searches on its platform last year originated from mobile devices. Google says that Valentine’s Day is the number two most-searched holiday for last-minute gifts. Search terms, “florist near me” has increased 2.6 times year-over-year and “chocolates near me” has increased 4.1 times year-over-year.

When it comes to giving flowers, roses are still the most popular—but consumers are beginning to steer away from the iconic red color. Search tool provider, SLI Systems analyzed more than 1.2 million e-commerce site searches on leading floral websites between January 6 and February 6, 2017.

What they found was that while red roses are still the most searched-for at 28 percent, their popularity (in searches) has declined 19 percent since 2015. In 2015, pink was the most popular rose color search, but in 2017 it hasn’t even made the top five.

Meanwhile, white roses (21 percent of searched flowers) saw a five percent increase since 2015 and there has become a major interest in blue, rainbow and purple this year.

If you don’t have a significant other to shower you with petals, just pull of the boss move of sending yourself some flowers—just make sure the note you write is just as genuine.