Nielsen (No. 32 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) announced the launch of Nielsen Esports, a new business vertical focused on competitive gaming that will leverage the company’s expertise and leadership in media consumption and valuation. Nielsen Esports will provide sponsorship valuation, fan insights, custom industry research and consulting services to rights holders, media platforms and brands around the world that are moving this fast-growing market forward.
Esports has experienced massive global growth over the past few years with major investment from blue chip sponsors, game publishers and media companies, as well as sports leagues and teams. The esports fan base is also rapidly expanding with nearly one in three fans beginning to follow esports just within the past year, according to new Nielsen Esports research.
“There’s a high demand for reliable, independent measurement of value in esports,” said Howard Appelbaum, President, Nielsen Entertainment. “We’re excited to enhance our client offerings and provide the industry with solutions that will help guide and optimize investment decisions in this exciting, growing space.”
Recognizing the need for consistent sponsorship valuation in esports, Nielsen developed Esport24, a syndicated sponsorship tracking service for esports tournaments. The service measures brand exposure in esports tournaments representing a variety of titles, event formats and geographic locations based on the same methodology that allows traditional sports rights holders and brands to quantify value and benchmark performance.
The playoff rounds of major 2017 esports tournaments measured by Esport24 to date, yielded anywhere from $75,000 to nearly $17 million in sponsorship value, emphasizing the need for standard metrics to help industry players understand the value they are providing, receiving, or missing out on, via brand activations in esports.
In addition to Esport24, custom holistic sponsorship valuations are demonstrating significant returns on investments. A recent Nielsen valuation conducted for RFRSH Entertainment on behalf of Astralis, a professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team, showed high-profile sponsor Audi received more than a 10x return on sponsorship exposure during the ELEAGUE Finals and DreamHack Las Vegas earlier this year. While live broadcast exposure (Streaming + TV) was the primary driver of value for Audi, nearly 40% of the brand’s return was driven by non-broadcast exposure, including mentions and images on RFRSH Entertainment’s and Astralis’ social and digital platforms.
Nielsen Esports will also release global fan insights throughout the year, with a new research offering spanning the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Japan, South Korea and China in 2017.
As part of this new business vertical, Nielsen has created an esports advisory board of industry stakeholders who will provide insight to help shape the future of esports audience measurement and valuation. Members include representatives from ESL, ESPN, Facebook, FIFA, Major League Gaming/Activision Blizzard, NBA 2K League, The Next Level, Sony PlayStation, Turner, Twitch, Twitter, Unilever and Google YouTube.
“Nielsen has done a stellar job establishing itself as a popular and respected source for data, making its foray into the esports industry an exciting endeavor,” said Kristen Salvatore, VP/Commercial Director, Esports and Event Sponsorships, Twitch. “With Twitch being an online epicenter for the live viewing of esports content, Nielsen’s research will tie directly to our community and makes our participation in the advisory board a natural fit.”
“The global, digital and young nature of esports fan base audience represents advertising’s most highly sought after segment, yet consistent and high quality data has been a challenge to measure and define,” said Craig Levine, CEO of North America, ESL. “As ESL has been pioneering esports for the past 15 years, we have witnessed the incredible growth and enthusiasm of our audience. We’re excited to partner with Nielsen and other industry leaders to guide the framework to measure esports sponsorships, shape the industry, and help further accelerate the esports industry overall.”
Stephen Master, Managing Director of Nielsen Sports North America, and Nicole Pike, Vice President of Nielsen Games, have expanded their current roles within the Nielsen Entertainment group to co-lead the global Nielsen Esports business.