• Turner and IMG continue to lure big brands to esports via ELeague, which entices companies with TBS broadcast coverage coupled with online programming.
  • Endemic sponsors looking to connect with millennial and Gen Z gamers employ multi-platform strategies through esports sponsorships.

Turner and IMG continue to attract non-endemic sponsors to esports. They’ve just announced that Boost Mobile—owned by Sprint—has entered into a cross-platform partnership with ELeague. The deal, which goes through 2018, includes tournaments for games such as Rocket League and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).

Nick Holt, senior manager of advertising and creative at Boost Mobile, told AListDaily that esports is something Boost Mobile was a part of back in 2006 with the Major League Gaming Pro Circuit. This new partnership with Turner is an opportunity for the brand to dip back into the segment with a credible partner and platform.

Seth Ladetsky, senior vice president of sales for Turner Sports, told AListDaily that the partnership includes sponsorship integration on the ELeague caster desk.

“Our casters are our gateways to the fans—they help guide the audience through the intense action and provide analysis that keeps the program moving,” Ladetsky said. “It’s a great place to have an integration with our brand partners, whether it’s branding on the desk, on screen or through other elements.

“We are exploring other non-interruptive ways to integrate Boost within ELeague, including branded experiences that fit within any breaks in the action, inclusion within our AdTracker that also houses up-to-the-minute news and stats, as well as other social and on-site initiatives that will take advantage of spaces like the upcoming ELeague Major in January.”

As part of the year-long partnership, the brand will be promoted across ELeague’s platforms, including ELeague.com, its social media channels and on TBS. Twitch and YouTube are ELeague’s digital distribution partners for live event coverage and on-demand content.

“While we do believe in a true cross-platform ELeague experience inclusive of our programming on TV (via TBS), we understand that the core esports audience is happening on streaming platforms like Twitch,” Ladetsky said. “Our brand partners understand that dynamic as well; we collaborate closely with them on developing marketing programs that harness the best of these platforms, whether it’s on TV, on mobile, on streaming platforms, on social, or on-site with fans directly.”

Holt said Boost Mobile is still in early relationship building with esports teams and players, but it is looking forward to seeing what its partnership and brand integrations with ELeague will bring throughout the season.

“From in-arena to in-game, we’ve crafted several ‘simple’ integrations that embrace and celebrate the fandom,” Holt said, referring to the caster deck brand integration and elements like the AdTracker during digital and television broadcasts.

Holt added that the messaging that Boost Mobile wants to market to this esports audience by giving them “a boost” when it comes to their wireless service.

“For a brand like Boost Mobile, ELeague provides incremental opportunities to reach and speak to young millennial fans, many of which may not be reachable in traditional marketing environments or stick-and-ball sports,” Ladetsky said.

Ladetsky said the number one thing that any successful marketing program needs to account for is striking the right tone and delivering an authentic marketing message that makes sense within this emerging environment.

“This is a community that will wholeheartedly embrace you, sometimes in surprising ways, that increase the value of the program exponentially,” Ladetsky explained. “But, it’s also one that you can easily turn off if coming in with just a hard sell and not really showing that your brand embraces the sport’s culture.”

Holt hopes that reconnecting with this esports fan base that’s grown exponentially and globally over the past decade, will help insert the Boost Mobile brand into gamers’ awareness. Wireless service is something that’s often top-of-mind with tech-savvy esports fans, and Turner’s ELeague structure offers both traditional and digital engagement across both established and up-and-coming esports titles.