Live esports events are among the in-person gatherings facing postponements and cancellations as businesses deal with the fallout from COVID-19. But given its massive online audiences, the esports and gaming industries can continue live tournaments viewed from the confines of consumers’ homes.
Live streaming platforms Twitch, YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming are all showing an uptick in users during the first quarter of 2020. Call of Duty has moved to online-only tournaments beginning April 10. And NBC Sports announced plans to offer the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge virtual event on NBCSN for the first time.
Sponsorship of traditional, live sports events isn’t currently available for marketers. But for some businesses, online events represent an opportunity. One brand that made the switch from live event sponsorship to digital is Seattle-based Jones Soda, profiled this week in Event Marketer.
The brand’s foray into esports kicked off in March with a title sponsorship for the Last Chance Qualifier competition in The Race All-Star Series. The sim racing virtual championship began March 21, with events streaming each Saturday for five weeks on Twitch and YouTube.
According to Maisie Antoniello, vp-marketing at Jones Soda, the brand had big events planned for 2020 but was forced to pivot in the face of cancellations. Esports was something it had looked into but hadn’t yet embraced. Approaching the digital sponsorship was similar to how the brand would handle a real-world one in that the partnership is key. Jones Soda made sure to focus on great in-game integration and use the brand’s social media channels in the ramp up to race day—something that’s key with motor sports, Antoniello learned.
Jones Soda is also working on relief efforts to support Washington State-based artists, stepping up to help communities in need as many businesses have done in recent weeks. For a deep dive into the esports program with Jones Soda, read more in Event Marketer.
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