Esports has been uniquely affected, both negatively and positively, by the spread of COVID-19. While the events of 2020 have taken many esports organizations by surprise, others have proven that with the right data insights and contingency plans, success—and even growth—are possible.
Esports + COVID-19 = A Mixed Bag
While virtually every industry has been impacted by the events of 2020, not all of it has been negative. Esports revenue, driven by sponsorships, is still expected to reach $1.6 billion, according to updated estimates by Newzoo. Nearly 36% of esports events transitioned to online streams in 2020, which has increased revenue in terms of streaming and publisher fees. The good news is that more online content generates more data that organizations can use to its advantage.
Omnicoach, for example, is a service that enhances video game streams with audience participation such as quests and achievements. The company uses AI-based analytics to help brands reach and monetize gaming audiences.
Analytics Cures Esports Uncertainty
Gathering and analyzing the right information about your customers’ needs is critical to neutralizing competitive threats and avoiding missed opportunities. It’s no surprise that esports and gaming engagement increased during COVID-19 lockdowns as many people found themselves with more time to spare. However, knowing that engagement rose isn’t enough. It’s important for esports brands and organizations to formulate specific goals.
Esports organization Fnatic recently published a report showing that CS:GO, Rocket League and Call of Duty: Warzone grew their player bases significantly between March and April of 2020 at the height of COVID-19. Viewership, meanwhile, focused mainly on League of Legends. Riot’s League of Legends European Championships Spring Split saw 32 million watch hours (an increase of 4.7 million over last year), with a peak of over 813,000 viewers.
Knowing which titles, in particular, are attracting new users, can translate to effective marketing campaigns or strategic activations. Organizations can use this information to highlight teams in these games or even participate for the first time.
Conversely, event organizers can use data to plan their next live event. If players and fans are not comfortable returning to arenas and stadiums yet, everyone from organizers to teams and brand sponsors stands to lose out by jumping back in too early.
Know What Success Looks Like
It’s easy to blame COVID-19 for any shortcomings, and much of this year’s events have indeed been outside of one’s control, but there is a reason that some organizations have continued to thrive, and others have not.
Some companies like Twitch and its parent company Amazon have thrived during the pandemic simply because they both offered the right services at the right time. Likewise, Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons became the top-selling game for Switch consoles because its release dropped a cheerful, easy-going and social title into society right when lockdowns began.
Meanwhile, Activision headed into its inaugural Call of Duty League season during the height of the pandemic and successfully pivoted from live to virtual events by planning ahead, and doing so allowed the publisher to host a successful Home Series for the London Royal Ravens entirely online.
The key, Royal Ravens parent company ReKTGlobal Founder and Chairman Amish Shah told Esports Insider, was focusing social media posts on its most engaged audience.
“Thirty percent-plus of the viewership from the league on average is from the UK, even when the times are at like one or two in the morning, it’s crazy,” he said.
Developing a Contingency Plan
Your organization, like those in esports, can use uncertainty to your advantage. According to Boston Consulting Group (BCG), there are three main sources that you can draw on to succeed in uncertain times:
- Signal Advantage: the ability to detect, communicate and assess risks and opportunities. Track more data than you think you need to. Study trends and formulate back-up plans accordingly. Can your employees work from home? Does your company have money it can divert to an emergency?
- Decisiveness Advantage: the ability to align around and execute the best strategy. You may not have a crystal ball, but when the best-laid plans fall apart, successful companies develop not only out-of-the-box ideas, including new business models, products, and services, but also the conditions for success. How can your product or service help customers during this unique time? Does it offer entertainment, hope, or convenience, etc.?
- Resilience Advantage: the ability to anticipate and recover from disruption. Businesses with resilience advantage cultivate options, agility, and attentiveness, which allow them to devise multiple ways to reach their goals. Is there a different approach you can take to reaching customers or perhaps a new service?
Are you feeling uncertain? We’re here to help! Contact us today for expert analytics, advertising research, trend analysis, and much more.
Written by HB Duran