Riot Games, Nielsen to Assess Advertising Potential of League of Legends Competitions

Riot Games has announced a partnership with Nielsen to determine the effectiveness of current advertising strategies during League of Legends esport tournaments. As one of the foremost marketing science companies, Nielsen are the ideal candidate to track brand exposure during the tournaments on the LoL calendar. This will allow Riot Games to quantify the value of advertising during LoL tournaments with greater accuracy. 

Nielsen’s research will not only assist Riot Games in demonstrating the success of existing sponsorships, but favorable results could also prove pivotal in attracting new brands to the potential of esports advertising. In turn, this will generate further revenue for what has become the world’s fastest growing sports genre.

League of Legends has always been a significant driver of esports’ overall popularity, with the fantasy battle arena game translating seamlessly from an online multiplayer PC title to a competitive format. Nielsen’s research will include an analysis of advertising at LoL’s three international flagship tournaments: the World Championship, the Mid-Season International and the All-Star Event. 

Caption: Invictus Gaming won the 2018 World Championship. 

Given the huge audiences that these events generate via online streaming, it is no surprise that advertisers are now approaching esports tournaments in the same manner as more traditional sporting competitions. In 2018, the peak viewing figures for some LoL competitions comfortably surpassed the equivalent statistic for some of the world’s most prestigious sporting occasions:

  • The 2018 League of Legends World Championship: 205 million viewers
  • Super Bowl LIII: 98.2 million viewers
  • Wimbledon: 56 million viewers

There are several factors contributing to these statistics. The 2018 World Championship was won by Invictus Gaming, who became the first Chinese team to triumph at this tournament. This unsurprisingly established a new audience in the huge market of China. Despite the long and prestigious histories of the Super Bowl and Wimbledon, they cannot compete with the universality of video gaming.

In terms of sheer numbers, those esports demographics are irresistible for advertisers. A significant part of that viewing audience is comprised of individuals who may not be accessible through other forms of advertising, which further places a premium on the sponsorship of LoL tournaments. Nielsen has already uncovered that approximately 60% of Americans that watch esports through Twitch rarely watch television, while esports inevitably attract a younger audience that are arguably common users of online adblocking software.

Caption: Team Liquid have announced a partnership with Marvel. 

The latest LoL news frequently reveals the crossover potential of esports, with one recent report detailing how Team Liquid has announced a strategic partnership with Marvel Entertainment. Team Liquid will display exclusive Marvel merchandise, including Avengers-inspired jerseys. This kind of sponsorship brings together disparate elements of popular culture to create content that reaches out to new markets.  

This type of sponsorship will become increasingly commonplace, as advertising remains integral to the growth and sustainability of sports. It’s fact, we could say that the quality of sport and the lucrativeness of advertising enjoy a symbiotic relationship. Improved quality of sport attracts a bigger audience, which makes advertising more valuable. More money entering the sport through advertising revenues enables more money to filter down to players and clubs to improve their craft.

If millennials and Generation Z continue to infrequently watch television and avoid online advertising, sponsorship in esports takes on a new level of importance. It will be interesting to see what Riot Games and Nielsen’s collaboration uncovers and whether it sparks a new frenzy from advertisers to snap up the juiciest sponsorship opportunities in the LoL esport.

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