Getting Off To A Slow Start

New ventures involving the growing e-sports industry are announced on a daily basis. E-sports stadiums are being built, such as the world’s largest to date in Arlington, Texas, opening this month. Musicians and other celebrities such as Drake, Imagine Dragons, and Michael Jordan are investing in teams and leagues. Sports leagues, governing bodies, teams, colleges, and athletes ranging from UEFA and ONE Championship to NHL player Zach Hyman are launching e-sports companies. Cryptocurrency initiatives such as ESports Ecosystem are proliferating quickly. Marketers are forging sponsorship and promotional deals, as Hershey’s recently did with e-sports stars Ninja and DrLupo. And broadcast exposure and live events are expanding around the world.

In contrast, news about e-sports-related licensing and merchandising deals remains relatively scarce. That is not to say there has been no activity, however. Some of the initiatives announced this year involving licensed or other forms of merchandise include the following:

• E-sports team Echo Fox licensed Fathead for logo and image-based wall graphics, available online. Echo Fox has forged deals with other companies in the past, including with Jinx for apparel.

• Meta Threads, which makes jerseys for a large portfolio of e-sports teams and was purchased by Canadian promoter UMG earlier this year, created a range of jerseys for the Old Guys Club (OGC) in collaboration with the team’s players. Fans selected the final design through a charitable contest.

• Razer partnered with Tribe Gaming, while Turtle Beach separately paired with Manchester City, both as official headset and audio accessories suppliers for the respective e-sports teams.

• Activision Blizzard Consumer Products Group sent out an RFP for an Overwatch League apparel licensee, with Fanatics reportedly in the mix as an interested party, according to SportsBusiness Daily.

• Beanstalk’s Tinderbox division announced it would represent ESL, a global organizer and production company overseeing e-sports events, for licensing in North America and Europe.

While these and other initiatives represent progress in the establishment of e-sports licensing, the number and breadth of licensing programs overall has been relatively limited to date, especially given the growing fan base, wide awareness, and increasing participation of major backers and sponsors in the e-sports world.

A reminder: Raugust Communications’ free e-newsletter goes out tomorrow, Tuesday, November 20, 2018. The Licensing Topic of the Month looks at retailers’ and etailers’ continued progression toward omnichannel distribution, while the Datapoint research feature focuses on age-group subsets for licensing programs within the preschool segment. If you do not yet subscribe, you can do so here.

RaugustReports will not publish on Thursday, November 22, due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. We will be back to our usual Monday and Thursday schedule next week.

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