Nielsen will soon lend even more legitimacy to esports advertising by measuring sponsorship deals through Riot Games.
Riot Games, the gaming publisher and esports event organizer, said it will begin working with Nielsen to measure the value of brand deals for Riot’s League of Legends leagues and competitions. The deal, announced today, could help show how brands working with the growing industry are seeing return on investment in ways similar to sponsorships in traditional sports.
According to eMarketer, 400 million people tuned in for esports competitions across OTT devices and cable channel channels in 2018, with PwC estimating esports sponsorship revenues last year of around $277 million.
“We see a continued education around esports,” said Nicole Pike, managing director of Nielsen Esports. “And I think one of the earlier barriers of brands was a lack of understanding at an organizational level of what opportunities there were in esports.”
Nielsen, which began its esports division in 2017, will be tasked with measuring sponsorships across Riot’s global footprint, including its leagues in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Through the agreement with Nielsen, Riot will provide streaming viewership data to support Nielsen’s independent brand exposure measurement. Metrics from League of Legends viewership will also be used in Nielsen’s Esport24 sponsorship valuation product. When the syndicated product debuted in 2017, Nielsen said sponsorships of esports tournaments ranged in yield from $75,000 to nearly $17 million—illustrating the need for some form of standard metric.
Although esports advertising might still seem niche, major brands are getting on board. In the past year, League of Legends has signed on sponsors including Mastercard, Dell/Alienware, State Farm and Nike.
Esports sponsorships continue to grow elsewhere. Last month, Miller Lite announced it signed on Complexity Gaming as its first esports team, and, in April, Twitter said it planned to stream content from esports events including BlizzCon.