The SPOBIS conference series has been created as a new event in 2017. For the first time, the SPOBIS Gaming & Media conference took place at the Koelnmesse on 21st of August. Its focus was a B2B conference for decision-makers from the booming esports sector, as well as the classic sports and media sector.
Football and esports
The presentation on football and esports was opened by another German football club joining esports. In particular: Cihan Yasarlar has now officially joined Red Bull Leipzig from FC Schalke 04, making another football club join the esports scene with Fifa.
The first speaker was David Vincente, Coordinator Mobile and Gaming at La Liga, focusing on the Spanish market and their strategies. The introduction video represented how intense and expensive the Spanish football league is, and why it is one of the top sports leagues in the world. In fact, only last year did La Liga have a jaw dropping figure of 1.2 Billion TV audience! This is a massive number. It does not come without a reason though. The aim of La Liga is to get their fans to enjoy football. This being their primary focus does however not exclude a mobile and gaming strategy. Vincente states, that the mentality at La Liga is different. They are aiming to provide more than just a 90 min match experience. Instead, La Liga also focuses on all the remaining time: before and after the match. In order to achieve this high and ambitious target, they developed several strategies, of which Vincente presented all:
- The official La Liga app
- La Liga 360, which lets you choose your fantasy line up
- La Liga TV app, allowing you to customise your TV accordingly
- La Liga Fantasy Marca
- La Liga Head Soccer
- La Liga Puzzle Quest, which has been recently launched
Vincente explained that the La Liga Fantasy Marca is a challenge in internationalising the app. Current analysis show, that 95% of the users are from Spain only. On the other hand, La Liga Head Soccer proves the opposite statistics, having already reached an international audience.
And what about esports?
Vincente stated that currently, La Liga has no next steps in entering or investing in esports. He underlines clearly however that they want to become part of the industry – somehow. When reviewing the statistics of the apps´ usage, gaming and esports may become the way to engage fans and the audience on a more constant and less fluctuating level. Gaming has already started to internationalise La Liga and enable competition against other more powerful leagues (NFL, NBA).
Closing the presentation on La Liga, a quick discussion on the topic below has followed. Find here the quick details:
esports: Jackpot or overrated hype- should sports clubs and associations take action now?
Does it make sense to invest in esports?
It makes sense to know and stay informed about esports and somehow get involved. It is for the club itself to identify what it wants to communicate, achieve etc. in the short/long term.
However, it is essential that esports becomes an integral part of the club strategy.
What about the smaller clubs?
Esports might develop into an opportunity in order to reach more recognition and attention on a larger scale. An unofficial ‘transfer market’ has already been created, where RB Leipzig bought a player from Schalke 04.
What about LoL and Dota?
These two games have similarities to other games, such as PES/FIFA. Therefore, they certainly might be worth considering, too.
What can esports learn from football?
The marketing of esports teams (e.g. Lagardère Sports is taking care of that for SK Gaming and Unicorns of love), talent scouting, training centres /infrastructure and training education.
It was then time for two major German football clubs to have their say on esports.
This is why FC Schalke 04 continues investing in esports
Alexander Jobst, Managing Board member (Marketing) of FC Schalke 04 was present to explain why FC Schalke 04 still does and will continue to invest in esports. Due to the generation change, it’s time to target the Millennials and develop the right strategic overview. Jobst explained that their 4 main strategic points are:
- Communication with the future generation
- Internationalising the brand FC Schalke 04
- Profitable and similar business models (tournaments, merchandising, sponsorships, prize pools, content)
- Diversification of the club
FC Schalke 04 has just recently returned from their second trip to China, discussing and exploring further esports opportunities, particularly the licensing of the brand FC Schalke 04. This carries the aim to move more international audience and fans towards the brand itself.
The club grants its current sponsors the opportunity to get involved in its esports section, as there are no intentions to build a separate, double sponsorship. In the opinion of Jobst, involving sponsors correctly is a try and fail at this stage. The structure and what to offer sponsors and partners are still being discovered. Other big brands have similar reluctance on how to get into esports, without risking too much and failing the investment. Therefore, it is understandable, why some other sports clubs do not want to get involved in esports (at least as yet).
Keine echte Liebe
This standpoint was displayed by Carsten Cramer, Sales & Marketing Director of Borussia Dortmund. Previous investments in ‘Second Life’ has brought negative experience to the club and was a waste of money. One of the most important recognitions out of this investment for Borussia Dortmund, however, is to consider the club´s Trade Mark identity. Having said that, this did not prevent Borussia Dortmund to partner up with Editors. Previously with EA and Fifa, now with Konami and PES, Cramer states that they have always invested in games which are related to the core of their business. Konami is actively present in the Asian market, which makes them a very good fit for Borussia Dortmund. At this stage, so Cramer, other types of esports games do not fit into the club´s portfolio.
The issues the club itself currently sees in esports are:
- Unclear/undefined market standard
- Low market fit
- The approach of ‘everything or nothing’
Cramer made clear, that real football has always been in the foreground of Borussia Dortmund.
Showcase match on Fifa 2017: VFL Wolfsburg vs FC Schalke 04
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