ESports Wagers Expect To Exceed $23 Billion By 2020

With eSports competitions gaining both large cash offerings (the recent International offered over $18 million) and massive audiences (this weekend’s League of Legends drew two million streaming fans without breaking a sweat), there’s no question that they’re gaining popularity. With them, however, wagering is expected to pick up as well, according to Forbes contributor Darren Heitner.

Based on research provided by gaming industry numbers team Eilers Research, the author believes that fans of eSports competition will bet more than $250 million on the outcome of eSports events for this year alone. However, that number will grow even larger over the next few years, as it’s estimated to reach an incredible $23 billion by 2020.

“Part of the equation is real-money fantasy eSports competition,” said Heitner. “Eilers Research estimates 590,000 paid actives for real-money fantasy eSports competition in 2015 along with 1.72 million paid actives for eSportsbooks. Fantasy eSports is similar to more common daily fantasy operations surrounding football, basketball, baseball, hockey, etc., where individuals may submit an entry fee and compete against others for predetermined prize pools. However, eSportsbook wagering is akin to traditional sportsbook wagering, which allows people to place wagers against the house on the predicted outcomes of individual matches.”

Eilers also indicated a “bull case”, where 32.5 million betting fans will wager an estimated $42.9 billion by 2020, which in turn will generate $3.3 billion in revenue for operators. The numbers look big, but actually end up being pretty modest in the context of eSports audience/spend. eSports betting, not fantasy, will drive the overwhelming majority of the growth, said Chris Grove, Senior Consultant at Eilers Research. I ll readily admit that this is a largely speculative exercise. It s a nascent and opaque segment. But I believe we have arguments that provide a firm, rational foundation for our projections.

During a recent panel at the SportsManias Digital Media Summit in Miami titled “Tomorrow’s Audience Today How to attract and retain millennials as content consumers and producers, too“, eSports was a large point of topic, as millennials are a key audience when it comes to eSports, as part of fantasy-based league spending. Their purchasing power is great, as their purchasing power will extend anywhere from $600 billion to $1.4 trillion over the next five years. The age group will also have $200 billion spending annually through 2017, and over $10 trillion in their lifetimes. That’s a lot of money, and a good amount of it could go towards betting in eSports.

Nintendo Evolves As An Entertainment Company, Wants To Do Movies

At one point, Nintendo seemed keen on the idea of seeing their properties get the big screen treatment, allowing Hollywood Pictures to produce a film based on its Super Mario Bros. game series.

A report from GamesIndustry International indicates that Nintendo may be interested in getting back into the non-gaming entertainment picture and that includes movies.

Nintendo executive Shigeru Miyamoto has been chatting with Shinya Takahashi, general manager of Nintendo’s software planning and development division, to use characters in more films kind of like how Donkey Kong appeared in this summer’s Adam Sandler comedy Pixels.

“As we look more broadly at what is Nintendo’s role as an entertainment company, we’re starting to think more and more about how movies can fit in with that, and we’ll potentially be looking at things like movies in the future,” Miyamoto said back in June, during the company’s E3 showcase.

There have been circulating rumors with Nintendo properties, including producer Avi Arad talking about working on an animated Mario film (a far cry from the live-action trainwreck released previously), and Netflix producing a Legend of Zelda TV series. (Sadly, that one’s still unconfirmed.)

Speaking with Fortune, Miyamoto explained, “We’ve had, over the years, a number of people who have come to us and said ‘Why don’t we make a movie together-or we make a movie and you make a game and we’ll release them at the same time. Because games and movies seem like similar mediums, people’s natural expectation is we want to take our games and turn them into movies. I’ve always felt video games, being an interactive medium, and movies, being a passive medium, mean the two are quite different.”

Next year is looking to be a promising one for games-turned-movies, with Duncan Jones’ Warcraft, the Angry Birds film and Sony’s forthcoming Ratchet & Clank film all promising to live up to their potential.

If Nintendo can find that kind of groove, then it could easily produce successful movies and TV shows based on its brands. It’s just a finding the right people. Say, for instance, recruiting James Cameron or Ridley Scott to helm a Metroid movie. That would make for some interesting results.

Can Interactive Video Be a Game Changer?

With digital video becoming more of an accepted media across both desktop and mobile devices, a number of companies are trying new ideas to keep audiences hooked and that includes interactive videos, where viewers can make choices and see how they unfold with the push of a button. A number of start-ups are exploring the format, trying to get users more involved with its content as a result.

Some folks believe that it could play a big role in the future of entertainment. It s not going to be very long before the expectation will be that the video you are watching on your smartphone, the Web or smart TV should be interactive, says Erika Trautman, founder and CEO of startup Rapt Media to Variety. We are fundamentally rethinking how video is presented.

That’s not to say everyone is quickly adopting to it, however. “The jury is still out on that,” said Jon Liebman, CEO of talent management/production company Brillstein Entertainment Partners. “Things have to be super-easy for a generation that is intuitively digital. It has to be like turning on the light.”

A number of companies, including Rapt, are involved, such as Cinematique, HapYak, Wirewax and TouchCast, among others, dabbling in formats and seeing what they can do when it comes to video projects.

Some believe that interactive video is a hook that will stand out from a growing field of content. It s a way to cut through the clutter, says Julie Greenwald, chairman and COO of Atlantic Records Group. Anyone with an iPhone can make a music video. This presents a new creative tool. A number of Atlantic artists are using Interlude’s system to producer interactive videos for viewers to mess around with, including Coldplay and Wiz Khalifa.

One big audience that could play a part in interactive video’s success is millennials, according to Interlude executive chairman Nancy Tellem. “I’m not saying linear experiences are over,” she said. “But this is a technology that lets people relate very differently to video.”

One such format that shows the popularity of interactivity is DVR functionality, which enables users to record and watch their shows however they please. But creators of interactive video want to go a step beyond that with interaction and without the annoying ads getting in the way. “There’s nothing worse than getting pop-ups over video,” said Cinematique CEO Randy Ross. “It disrupts the experience.”

It can also play a part in marketing as well. MTV recently debuted a special Choose Your Own Murder series to tie in with its Scream show, where users can select their fate with a few button presses. It’s been a moderate success, with viewers spending an average of seven minutes and 23 seconds interacting more than three times the length of the total video content in the segment. If you make something interactive, people will watch it longer — and they ll rewatch it, says Matt McDonough, MTV s director of digital marketing.


EA Sports and Uber Partner To Deliver Free Copies of Madden NFL 16

EA Sports has already begun its huge marketing blitz for its forthcoming football game Madden NFL 16, which drops in stores (and digital release) later tonight. The game has a number of promising new additions to get the most out of players’ football skills, and it also opens up plenty of opportunities on the marketing side. Like, for instance, with Uber.

Per this post on the Uber blog, EA Sports has announced that it has teamed up with Uber to deliver copies of the game to fans that take a ride with the service today. Available across all 32 cities, the promotion will literally deliver hundreds of copies of the game.

In addition, one particular rider in each state will get an ultimate Xbox One prize pack, including a 1TB Xbox One console with a copy of the game, delivered by a current or former NFL superstar, including Ickey Woods, Derrick Brooks and Coby Fleener.

To take part, users simply need to download the Uber app for their mobile device, enter the promo code “Madden NFL’, and request the ride. The full list of promotional codes by city can be found here.

It’s a unique promotion, one that not only promotes Uber consumers into using its service, but also Madden itself. Usually, EA Sports has turned to food and drink makers to promote its product, but this marks a neat new twist in its campaign.

EA Sports is going all out to promote Madden, as it’s expected to sell millions of copies, as versions from year before have done. As part of this promotion, the publisher released a new mini-movie trailer, featuring Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, coach Rex Ryan and a variety of NFL superstars doing wacky stuff as they prepare to do battle with an ultimate competitor. That video can be watched below.


Digital Media Consumption Continues To Grow, Investments Follow

Digital media is on the rise as of late, between streaming services, downloadable/cloud-based games and other conveniences that make it simple to get entertainment with the push of a button.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to numbers provided by online measurement firm comScore, the total amount of time spent with digital media in the U.S. has increased by 49 percent over the past two years, with most use coming from non-desktop devices (like mobile). In addition, time spent with digital media on such devices managed to grow an incredible 90 percent between June 2013 and June 2015, with a 64 percent increase with tablet usage.

That’s not to say desktop devices are dead by any means, just that there’s a transition to more mobile use. Total minutes spent consuming digital media from desktop devices still showed some growth, by 16 percent, over the same two-year period. There’s still clearly room for both, according to its numbers.

As a result, a number of venture capitalists and media giants have submitted billions of dollars into digital media start-ups, in the hopes of getting caught up in the wave and seeing their investments paying off. One example WSJ brought up is NBCUniversal’s recent $200 million investment in BuzzFeed.

On top of a growing audience of viewers, marketers are also focusing a bit more on digital as well. Internet advertising revenues for the U.S. totaled $49.5 billion for last year, a 16 percent increase over 2013, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. And those numbers are likely to grow even more this year.

The chart below breaks down just how aggressive this growth has been in all areas over the past couple of years, barely clearing a million minutes back in 2013, and then jumping to almost 1.5 million. Expect this number to continue to grow, especially with services like Netflix and Amazon expanding on their original productions.


Jeff Bezos: ‘We’re In The Golden Age of Television’

We’ve talked in the past about how some audience members mainly millennials are moving away from traditional television in favor of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. However, one company that’s set to take on TV head-on with its streaming service is Amazon, which already has millions of subscribers tuned in with its Prime service. And it’s likely to get even more, with additional partners on board for programming.

A new article from Business Insider indicates just how Amazon could change the television landscape. It noted a recent deal where Amazon signed up with ex-Top Gear hosts Richard Hammond and James May on a new motoring-based show that will air exclusively on Prime, something that’s no doubt getting the attention of the fan base of that show.

This is just the beginning of Amazon’s new original content movement, according to the article, and for good reason. ” Over the last five years a technological revolution has seen more and more people watching their favorite films and television shows over the internet,” the author, Gabriel Tate, notes. “Instead of waiting for a time in the week when a broadcaster deigned to show the next episode in a particular series, viewers now have the opportunity to watch programs or movies at a time and a place of their choosing, whether that be in their living room between nine and 10 o clock on a Tuesday evening or under a tree in their local park on a Sunday afternoon.”

With tens of millions of subscribers across both pre-set devices and devoted peripherals like the Amazon Fire TV Amazon is planning to hook even more viewers with its forthcoming programs. Filmmaker Woody Allen has announced that his first TV project will be in compliance with Amazon, along with a new comedy from producer Steven Soderbergh, a film by Spike Lee, and an adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel The Man In the High Castle, which will be executive produced by Prometheus director Ridley Scott.

Amazon first got its revival of digital services with the pick-up of Ripper Street, which was previously cancelled by the BBC back in 2013. Forty thousand people signed a petition to keep it alive, notes Chris Bird, Amazon s UK director of content strategy. When there s that level of interest, you need to take note of it. It’s been a popular hit ever since, along with others shows like Hand of God.

Shows with darker tone have a better chance on a streaming service as well, according to Transparent creator Jill Soloway. I go to work every day and I m making the exact thing I want to make, she said. I feel like I m making art.

Ben Watkins, creator of Hand of God, added, After [Brad Pitt zombie epic] World War Z, I realized that audiences want to know all about the hero s journey in these big movies, and at the end they want to be satisfied. With TV, it s completely the opposite: the looser it is, the better.

Amazon will more than likely continue with this business formula, introducing new programming, along with older series favorites that are big hits for streaming (like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead) to entice audiences. “I think we’re in a golden age of television,” said Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, speaking with The Telegraph.

The numbers don’t lie Amazon is definitely becoming a Prime choice.

Facebook Finally Allows GIFS in Ads, Page Posts

For the longest time, Facebook refrained from using animated ads on its site, probably due to the fact that they would be a distraction for the site’s popular social feeds. But now it appears it’s relaxing a little bit and allowing the GIFs to run wild.

AdWeek reports that the social site has announced it will now allow animated clips to run on a small amount of brand pages, enabling companies to run GIFs for consumers to see. A few companies have already begun testing out the format, including Wendy’s and German soda Kust, who already put up the animated Nyan Cat ad below.

In addition, Facebook will also allow brands to test out these GIFs through promoted posts in users’ news feeds, although it isn’t likely to roll out of control anytime soon, as it hasn’t introduced a widespread business plan just yet.

There are certain limitations to the ads, as they can’t be placed in small sidebar ads (which are being phased out anyway), and “Boosted” page posts seem to be more of a focus than general ones.

Speaking with TechCrunch, a Facebook rep stated, “GIFs can be a fun and compelling way to communicate, so we’ve started testing GIF support in posts and boosted posts for a small percentage of Facebook Pages. We will evaluate whether it drives a great experience for people before rolling it out to more pages.”

So it all depends on audience feedback, really. But considering that more and more users have been posting their own clickable GIF icons in their posts lately, these could easily catch on, especially for those that prefer a little more animation in their news feeds. It all depends whether they become bothersome over time, or worse yet, create problems for those simply trying to skim through their social feed on a mobile device, only to find Nyan Cat continuously running around in a Kust can.

We’ll see how this pans out over the next few months.

Millennial TV Viewers Drop 14 Percent

There’s been some talk recently about traditional television losing its luster compared to the number of streaming services that are on the rise, despite the fact that TV advertising spending is still as strong as ever. However, if millennials have their way, that shift may be coming sooner rather than later, at least for this key demographic.

A report on MediaPost indicates that a number of TV networks have lost viewership over the past year with younger adult viewers, based on a series of statistics provided by MoffettNathanson Research.

Between the months of July 2014 and June 2015, viewership for 11 TV networks groups in the 18-34 viewer group took a 14 percent dive. That’s 1.2 million fewer viewers. TV networks groups as a whole sank 7 percent overall in total viewership over the year, with an even more crucial decline of 3.4 million.

Teen audiences also dropped by 16 percent (437,000), followed by younger kids, dropping by ten percent (502,000). However, older audiences also dropped off, with the 35-49 age group dropping by seven percent (736,000) and 50 or higher down two percent (504,000).

Fox suffered the biggest blow (between both broadcast and cable networks), losing 271,000 over the year, or 17 percent. Viacom (267,000), NBC Universal (245,000) and A & E Networks (112,000) also took significant hits.

CBS, however, noted a bit of a rise in this period, increasing by two percent higher. Scripps Network Interactive wasn’t far behind, but had more of a flatter figure in terms of numbers.

So who benefits the most It appears that independent TV networks got the biggest increase, jumping by six percent in total viewers over the past year, including older skewing networks, according to the numbers.

This week’s (a)list daily Video Summit provided some perspective on this changing picture, mainly based on where content can be found and where it’s going. “It’s about what type of content we can produce for which audience, and where that audience lives,” said Rebecca Markarian, senior vice president of digital and social media for Ayzenberg.”It’s very much about the people you’re trying to reach, then the platform, then the content.” (The full article can be found here.)

In another panel, VidCon Industry Track curator Jim Louderback added his own perspective on the matter. “It’s not just YouTube any more, there are plenty of new formats,” he said. “The people whoa re good at one format aren’t necessarily good at another. For a brand it’s important that you work on all these different places.” (More details on that panel can be found here.)

Does this mean that traditional television will eventually drop off Probably not anytime soon but you can bet there’s some cause for concern at each of these networks, especially with losses headed into the millions.

What Happens When You Mix Nerf, GoPro And Chatroulette? This.

When a video hits and one that takes advantage of the Chatroulette service to boot sometimes it can just explode. That was certainly the case when a UK production team called Realm Pictures, working alongside immersive experience designers Red House Mysteries, presented the creative side of using the randomizing chat service, creating a first-person shooting video that has swept the web by storm.

Reported by Engadget, the video, posted below, features a real-time Doom-like first-person shooter experience, where players experience undead characters in a creepy graveyard setting. As part of the gameplay process, chatters would give commands to the player at hand, like “Run, run, fat boy run!” or “Go for the head shot!” In addition, Realm also backed up the action with plenty of visual effects, including blood spurts, as well as sound effects including a rocket launcher and “rhino turret.” The involvement of the players certainly takes it to another level and leads to humorous results.


Speaking with CNET, Realm’s David Reynolds said there were some snags into getting the video experience put together. “The big sticking point was being able to un-tether our main ‘actor,’ because he kept getting snagged on trees and gravestones.”

This was an experiment as a whole, but one that has paid off quite well, with nearly two million views on Facebook. “Many years ago we experimented with the concept of ‘random stranger’ control, and one afternoon strapped a webcam to my head while someone followed me around with a laptop,” says Reynolds. “The idea stuck in my head and eventually resurfaced while we were talking about fun projects for the summer. We decided to throw some of our indie film tricks behind it and see what happened.”

Considering its success, don’t be surprised if brands start hopping on this bandwagon, if only to get involved more in the experience and see what users have to offer as it plays out in real-time.