We have some exciting and important stuff happening on the sports research front. We recently announced a research partnership with the Skillshot Division of HI-REZ Studios, focused on how esports influences customer engagement. HI-REZ is the creator of video games like SMITE and PALADINS and Skillshot Media is HI-REZ’s esports production company. We are partnering with Skillshot on multiple research projects that investigate fandom and customer economics in the world of esports.
Esports might just be the most exciting category in the sports and entertainment industry. It’s already big and it is growing fast. As a quick reference point, the global video game market is estimated at about $140 billion dollars. In terms of comparisons, the movie industry does about $40 billion in box office and the NFL generates revenues of about $14 billion. This is not exactly an “apples to apples” comparison but it makes the point. Something big is happening.
Today we are publishing the first version of a White Paper that looks at the impact of esports viewing on consumer engagement with a game. This is a great topic that has implications well beyond the world of esports and video games. Fundamentally, the question is what happens when consumers engage with content and the community that surrounds a brand or product. Esports is a great setting for this research because the digital technologies that support online gaming make it possible to “begin” to understand the relationship between viewing esports and consumer engagement.
From a technical standpoint, the tricky thing about attributing increased customer engagement to esports viewing is that players that choose to watch might be “different” from those that do not watch. In the paper, we use player data to create very similar groups (based on extensive data on playing histories) of esports watchers and non-watchers. We have tried to keep the paper simple but we do discuss propensity score matching and logistic regression. I hope that we have hit the right balance of technical rigor and readability. For the more technical audience, we are also working towards a standard academic paper that will feature more analyses and some additional techniques.
In terms of the findings, the bottom line is that there is a strong link between esports viewership and increased consumer engagement. Specifically, we find that viewing esports increases customer engagement in terms of playing more, playing better and spending more. What drives this result? Our conjecture is that esports provides an opportunity for community building. Players can connect with other fans over context that is often exciting and inspirational.
Much more to come…
Check out the White Paper: The SMITE Case Study