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NASCAR Drives Digital Transformation

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NASCAR Drives Digital Transformation: From Gears And Grease To Millennials and eSports

Digital transformation – taking a traditional business to a modern digital business, is a core challenge of most non-technology, non-startup companies. I recent talked to Box CEO Aaron Levie about how his company is helping other companies transform. And I had the chance to chat with State Farm’s chief digital officer and CTO about 15 keys to successful digital transformation that they’ve learned throughout their journey.

“[Esports] is this really unique mix of sports culture and pop culture,” Cole said. “The difference in 2020 versus 1980 is that now it’s cool…I really think we’re at an exciting time where going forward you’ll see more unique activations.”

Last week I had the chance to do the same with Tim Clark, chief digital officer of NASCAR, and John Martin, who leads digital ops at one of America’s oldest and most-loved brands. They’re using data and AI via Adobe’s Experience Cloud to unify their customer data, customize experiences, and personalize messaging.

As a result, they’re bridging the physical and digital world, increasing fan engagement, and entering new markets like eSports and augmented reality.

Here’s what they shared:

John Koetsier: Let’s start at the beginning: what does NASCAR really sell?

Clark: It’s experiences. We are an entertainment product, and we are constantly looking for ways to create a great experience for our fans. At the top of the list is attending a race in person, but also with fantastic broadcast partners we can deliver that on broadcast media.

And we fill the rest in with digital media experiences.

John Koetsier: Why does NASCAR need to reinvent itself? And how are you doing it?

Clark: Prior to 2012 we outsourced the management of our digital platforms to Turner Sports. We brought those back in house and got up and running in 2013.

Since then, digital-based insights have permeated the company. We initially saw launching digital in NASCAR as one piece of the pie, but actually  it touches everything.

We try to reinvent ourselves every year. We’re constantly trying to improve based on data and learning. We now have access to so much data and insights so we can pretty quickly tell what’s working and what’s not.

It’s an ongoing reinvention … there’s no finish line. And we’ll continue to evolve.

One of the most important parts of the transformation journey we’ve been going on for the last few years is that we’re getting smarter every year.

John Koetsier: Talk to me about the NASCAR demographic. From the outside, it would seem to be older. How are you reaching new fans while keeping existing fans?

Clark: It very much mirrors the demographics of the United States, actually. We’re really well in line with that.

But, we’re creating opportunities to reach younger audiences and newer audiences via augmented reality and esports … we’re looking for ways to reach fans where they are.

We don’t want to get too caught up in different tech platforms and whether they’ll scale, but it’s important for us to be where the fans are.

We have no illusions that augmented reality will reach a ton of people, but if there are fans that are completely new to the sport … we should be where they are and it’s incumbent on us to reach as broad an audience as possible. We certainly want to continue to serve our existing fans while also reaching new fans.

And we’re able to do that through data.

John Koetsier: Let’s talk about eSports. It’s super-hot right now, and you have major-league sports owners investing in eSports as well as gaming companies. What is NASCAR doing here?

Clark: We’re very, very excited about where we are with esports.

We have two primary eSports platforms: iRacing, which is a simulated racing product on PC, and console games. In terms of iRacing, there are drivers that are racing at the top level of the sport today and part of their journey has included iRacing.

Essentially, this game that is driving the next generation of NASCAR stars. NBC Sports Network broadcasts it live, and 17-year-old just won the championship. Funny story: there were media opportunities

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, but he was busy attending high school!

And we have a partnership with 704 Games to produce the Nascar console game. On the console side it’s more of a mass-market play.

Bow we’re able to reach fans where they are. We have team involvement. This is the first year of this league, but eSports will continue to be a bigger and bigger piece of our future.

John Koetsier: With all these changes, how is monetization changing for NASCAR?

Clark: We are obviously a sport that I would argue that is equipped to super-serve our advertising partners.

No other sport has as much visible sponsor involvement as ours, and brand loyalty among fans – based on their favorite drivers – is an incredible advantage. Our digital platforms are a great way to activate those sponsorships, and our partners want these more authentic brand experiences.

It’s not about a banner or clickable ad … it’s about authentic integration into the fan experience.

And the way we’ve managed through data to optimize that has been a huge benefit.

John Koetsier: You told me previously you were using AI. Where? What for?

Clark: One example that is top of mind is in our fantasy game that allows you to make in-race line-up changes. So we’re able to use AI to make real-time recommendations based on the data that the cars are generating in a live race to give fantasy users predictive data that says you might be better off moving a particular driver into your starting line-up.

John Koetsier: Nice ... I don’t think that’s possible in NFL

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 Fantasy Football. Talk to me about time to implement. How long it take to reach this point?

Martin (John Martin, who leads digital ops at NASCAR): The transformation has been more about our capabilities internally. When we first started this journey … the common mentality was that only big tech companies can do this stuff ... and you’ll never be able to it yourself.

That’s changed in the last decade. We do so much more internally, and we have so much more capability. Things that we would have been afraid to do before, we’re able to do now … with the help of technology partners.

John Koetsier: Talk to me about challenges? Surely this has not all been smooth sailing ...

Martin: The core failure is that we followed what other people were doing.

It wasn’t until we sat down with Adobe and talked about our sport and how it’s different that we were able to NASCAR-ize the technology.

John Koetsier: Talk to me about the business results your digital transformation is achieving.

Clark: Our marching orders are really clear: we focus on engagement.

Whether we’re serving 100 or 100 million users, we’re focused on improving the experience and deepening the engagement. One of the results is that of all of the US-based sports league websites (NFL, MLBNBA, NHL) we have a consumption rate that is higher, exceeding four pages per visit.

We can create engaging experiences to keep fans and users coming back, and that’s great for us and great for our partners.

What’s happening now is that we’re reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time ... we’ve really stepped on the gas in the last year with that.

We can certainly fall in love with big numbers and sending one consistent message to tens of millions of people, but where we find more effectiveness is targeting specific messages to specific people.

To do that, we have to be hyper-focused on using our data.

John Koetsier: Thank you both for your time!

Fnatic India Pubg Mobile

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Fnatic Planning Facility in India After Acquiring PUBG Mobile Team

  • Fnatic plans to establish an Indian gaming facility after acquiring a PUBG Mobile team in the country.
  • As of June, PUBG Mobile had amassed more than 400M downloads, with 50M daily active users.
  • The $2.5M USD PUBG Mobile Club Open 2019 will conclude in December.

U.K.-based organization Fnatic today announced that it has acquired an Indian PUBG Mobile squad, and according to a representative, the team plans to establish a local facility in the country.

Fnatic acquired Team XSpark, a team that competes in the mobile version of PUBG Corporation’s battle royale shooter, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS. Division director Victor Bengtsson told Indian publication Spiel Times that Fnatic has larger-scale plans in the country.

“For the initial months, we’ll focus on the sports side and content. Over time, we are looking to set up a gaming facility and staff up so that all the fans and gamers in India can get the full Fnatic experience that they deserve, in terms of products, experiences, and of course content,” Bengtsson said in the interview, adding, “One of the core reasons for us coming to India is to create a platform where fans of esports can find a home.”

The free-to-play PUBG Mobile has seen significant growth across Asia, with Tencent announcing in June that the game had been downloaded 400M times internationally, with 50M daily active users. The $2.5M PUBG Mobile Club Open 2019 competition is currently underway, with the Fall Split Global Finals set to take place in December.

Coffee with Creatives

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Coffee with Creatives: Tapping Into the Esports Ecosystem with XR Sports Group

Hosts Erin Patton and Tyler Kern were joined on this episode of Coffee with Creatives by Kedreon Cole and Dom Bookman of XR Sports Group to discuss the growth of esports.

“[Esports] is this really unique mix of sports culture and pop culture,” Cole said. “The difference in 2020 versus 1980 is that now it’s cool…I really think we’re at an exciting time where going forward you’ll see more unique activations.”

They also discussed the value for brands in finding ways to integrate themselves into the gaming landscape. Bookman explained how XR Sports Group is making it easier for companies of all sizes to create communities within the esports ecosystem.

Listen to the full episode of Coffee with Creatives and stay tuned for more insightful episodes coming soon in this series.

How Technology Can Help eSports

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How Technology Can Help Esports Continue Its Astonishing Growth

Misfits Gaming chief Matthew McCauley believes that Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology has the ability to revolutionise esports.

McCauley, who is social media and marketing director of the outfit, identified new technologies as they key to continuing the growth of the esports market.

In recent years the industry has exploded in popularity and commercial value, exceeding $1 billion, but McCauley is wary that it must continue to innovate to survive.

McCauley says: “It is my firm view that the furthering the industry’s growth is in large part going to be dictated by more technological advancements, both in quality and in economy.

“Take VR and AR in current state. These are both still developing, though at a rapid pace, but are just vastly too expensive in their demographic–it’s not affordable at the moment for the consumer or even for the developer to create purpose led titles.

“Both technologies are crucial though, in what they add to IP, and in what they add to the user experience. When AR becomes affordable in mainstream technology is when esports changes again.”

McCauley further emphasised the importance of treating esports differently to traditional sports.

He is clear that those driving esports must look at non-traditional methods of attracting new audiences and not be held by convention.

He adds: “What if VR headsets came down in price so much that everyone had a VR headset in their household? Instead of watching Twitch on a screen, what if you’re part of the audience or you’re roaming around the map in-game as a VR participant?

“Having a real virtual audience and being able to interact as part of a crowd is a huge missing element. We’re in a digital age and a digital world–it’s not traditional consumership. It’s not like we’re at an NFL game.

“We’re looking at this as a fan from your desk or your office: how are you interacting with the tournament, match or brand?”

McCauley has further pinpointed Instagram as a key area of growth for the organization going forward.

He believes, as the core audience for esports ages and their habits change, so will their primary sources for social media.

However, he also accepts the need to effectively operate on Twitter to enable conversation and grow audiences in new markets.

He says: “As the community gets older, they’re shifting to Instagram. We find it easiest to grow on Instagram in terms of pure follower growth, and we get much more engagement on Instagram purely by how the app functions.

“It’s a completely visual platform. We don’t tend to post anything low-end. The difficulty with it is, where Instagram is a high-quality platform, Twitter is still where the conversation happens.”

Furthermore, McCauley feels esports can gain the most commercial success from building authentic and genuine brand partnerships.

For this, the French and the South East Asian markets have been highlighted as key to achieving enduring success.

He adds: “The most successful brands are the ones that are making something their fans can interact with. Partnering and esports company with a brand is so crucial to sustainability and longevity.

“I’m not saying that esports is going to be the biggest thing on the planet, but it could be, and you could feasibly get a gaming brand that branches across esports and action sports.”

Piece of the Esports Action?

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Can Investors Get a Piece of the Esports Action?

There's huge potential in this subsection of the video game world.

If you're looking for an industry with a ton of rapid growth behind it and plenty of room for more ahead, you could do worse than to consider video games. The amount of time we spend on them is increasing at a ridiculous clip, as is the amount of money, and the global trends appear promising, which adds up to an opportunity for investors. If you don't feel ready to take advantage, Motley Fool Answers co-hosts Robert Brokamp and Alison Southwick want to help.

For this podcast, they've invited senior analyst Jason Moser back into the studio, this time to talk about the current situation in the world of video games and esports from an investor's perspective: which companies look strongest, how this particular business might move the needle for some more diversified companies, and more. In this segment, they focus specifically on the world of esports. So if you can't quite imagine how watching other people play video games could evolve into the next breakout spectator sport, allow them to walk you through it.

To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks.

Something big just happened

I don't know about you, but I always pay attention when one of the best growth investors in the world gives me a stock tip. Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner and his brother, Motley Fool CEO Tom Gardner, just revealed two brand new stock recommendations. Together, they've quadrupled the stock market's return over the last 17 years.* And while timing isn't everything, the history of Tom and David's stock picks shows that it pays to get in early on their ideas.

eSports Apparel Sponsorship

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Puma Joins Nike and Adidas in the Esports Apparel Sponsorship Chase

Brand launches first collection with Cloud9

Esports and sports are intertwined. Sports owners are running esports teams, football players are streaming on Twitch, and sports leagues are bolstering their digital counterparts. But, until recently, the major sportswear companies had only been testing the esports waters.

That’s changing quickly. At the end of August, Adidas released a new clothing line featuring Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Last month, Nike dropped team kits for China’s League of Legends Pro League. Now it’s Puma’s turn to get in on the action with a new ad showcasing their first official collection with Cloud9, a leading esports organization.

Each of those companies chose a different way to get involved in esports. Adidas went with an individual sponsorship, Nike with an entire league, and Puma with an organization competing in a variety of titles.

“Cloud9 is a very diverse group that is able to adapt to the variability of the gaming space in ways that any single league or individual simply isn’t,” said Adam Petrick, Puma’s global director of brand and marketing. “If a game falls out of popularity, a league could suffer; if a streaming platform struggles, a streamer’s career could stagnate. Partnering with an esports org like Cloud9 helps insulate us from that kind of risk, without sacrificing the ability to support and engage with future gaming trends.”

In 2018, Forbes placed a $310 million evaluation on Cloud9, making it the most valuable esports organization in the world. Since then, esports has moved quickly with many funding rounds changing valuations, but Cloud9 is undoubtedly one of the top organizations in the game.

Cloud9 has teams in League of Legends, CS:GO, Fortnite, Rocket League, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Rainbow Six, Teamfight Tactics, PUBG, Super Smash Bros and more. That’s what Petrick means when he speaks on Cloud9’s adaptability. Puma’s new spot developed by Moon to Mars brings many of Cloud9’s esports stars together in an ad that feels like a celebration of the organization as competitive players from various titles show their own paths to esports stardom.

“The #DareYou campaign tells the true stories of the players featured in the ad, showing what was expected of them and how they ultimately defied those expectations to pursue a life that is true to their character,” Petrick explained. “That’s not dissimilar to how Puma perceives its entry into esports—we dismiss as false the idea that esports is not a ‘serious sport,’ and #DareYou is our way of declaring, unequivocally, that there is not and has never been a meaningful distinction between gaming culture and sports culture.”

The path to becoming an esports pro isn’t easy. Young players have to convince parents that playing video games professional is a realistic career path, not just a way to avoid homework. Like being a professional athlete, only a minuscule percentage of players will actually succeed. The #DareYou spot shows how Cloud9 players took a risk to forego traditional career paths to pursue a life in esports. And now there’s an ad that proves that risk can sometimes come with great reward.

How Much Do eSports Players Make in 2019?

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"eSports gaming professionals are starting to earn millions of dollars competing professionally." Here's how much the best players earn in 2019, and how you can get in on the action.

There's no doubt about it - global eSports revenues are rising dramatically in 2019, up 27% compared to 2018, according to Newzoo, a gaming industry analysis company.

Popular leagues are taking the industry by storm like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Fortnite leading the way. Additionally, major global brands like Coca-Cola (KO - Get Report) , T-Mobile (TMUS - Get Report) and Toyota (TM - Get Report) , among others, are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in sponsorship money.

With plenty of cash flowing into the picture, how do eSports teams and players earn money? Primarily, through capitalistic means that any American would recognize:

  • Cash prizes. There is no shortage of prize money available to eSports gaming participants, with single-game cash earnings up to $200,000. Some high-level competitions, like Dota 2 International, earns $10 million to the competition's winning team.
  • Team salarieseSports offers regular salaries to team participants, with average salaries in the $3,000-to-$5,000 monthly in gaming hotbeds like China and the U.S. Top echelon players can earn much more, up to $15,000 for a single competition plus bonuses. Some teams even offer their players perks like health insurance and retirement plans.
  • Sponsorship money. With major global brands in the picture, eSports is raking in the sponsorship cash. Some of that money goes into competition and cash prizes, and some go directly to team ownership, as is the case with Audi and its sponsorship of Astralis Counter Strike franchise. Sponsors comprise $456 million of the overall $1.1 billion in eSports revenues this year, Newzoo reports.
  • Digital streaming. Online competition has also spawned a highly effective and organized network of digital streamers who can earn $4.99 per month per viewer and show eSports competitions via platforms like Twitch. Advertising and investment dollars are also starting to flow into the eSports arena.
  • Media rights. According to industry statistics, media rights encompass one-fifth of revenues earned by eSports companies and players. Mostly, media rights money is paid out to event organizers and game developers, who pass on some of the cash to teams and players in the form of prize money and bonuses. According to Newzoo, media rights comprise $251 million of the $1.1 billion total eSports revenue in 2019.
  • Merchandising and tickets. At $103 million in revenues in 2019, merchandising and tickets are among the top tier leaders in eSports payouts. That said, merchandising usually follows the ascension of a sport, as it historically has on the PGA tour, in the NFL and NBA, and in other popular professional sports leagues. Expect both merchandising and ticket revenues to climb as gaming continues to flourish on a global stage.

Merchandising companies like 100 Thieves have already translated the popularity of eSports to the masses - its signature shirts are already a common site around the world and are reportedly often worn by other professional athletes. That's a sure sign merchandising should be a cash cow for organized eSports for years to come.

How Much Do eSports Players Make?

With sponsorship cash and gamer salaries stacking up, it's worth noting the big financial winners in the eSports market - the players.

These players are the highest income earners in the gaming realm, making millions in the process.

Johan Sundstein. Sundstein, also known as NTtail, to gaming fans, is a highly popular and successful "Defense of the Ancients 2," (more commonly known as "Dota 2") game player. The 26-year-old has earned almost $7 million playing in 108 tournaments to date, making him king of the hill in the eSports earning game.

Jesse Vainikka. Also known as HerAx in the Sports world, the 27-year-old Finland native has earned $6.47 million competing in 64 eSports tournaments. Like Sundstein, Vainikka is one of the most accomplished "Dota 2" players in the world.

Anathan Pham. Known simply as "ana" by gaming enthusiasts, Pham has earned $6 million. At 19 (Pham turns 20 on Oct. 26) Pham is one of the youngest players on the eSports tour. He's also earned $3.14 million so far in 2019 alone.

Sebastien Debs. At $5.5 million in career earnings, "Ceb" Debs clocks in as the fourth-highest income earned in the eSports arena. Competing as both a coach and a player, the Frenchman won the prestigious International "Dota 2" event in 2018 and 2019, as a member of team OG.

Topias Taavitsainen. Known as "Topson" on the eSports tout, Taavitsainen has earned $5.4 million in professional gaming income. The Finland native began playing "Dota 2" at age 8, and is now considered a franchise player for team OG, widely recognized as one of the most dominant teams in all of eSports.

Other Ways to Make Money in Gaming

Players aren't the only earners in the eSports world. Other gaming participants are cashing in, too:

  • Broadcasters. Like any entertainment sporting event, announcers and color commenters are needed to call the action. Those who do so can earn up to $1,000 per broadcast.
  • Coaches and managers. Gaming teams need strategic help that eSports coaches provide. The best coaches can earn over $80,000 annually.
  • Media and writers. No eSporting contest is complete without coverage of the game that's read by gaming fans all over the world. The money's not great, but if you love eSports and want to write about it, you can earn about $35,000 annually doing so.
  • Marketing specialists. To expertly sell eSports to the global masses, marketing specialists plugged into the gaming world can earn an annual salary of about $90,000.
  • Social media experts. To get people talking about eSports online, social media experts can earn about $25,000 annually.
  • Event manager. Gaming event specialists, who set up and run the actual contests, can make up to $40,000 every year.

Tips on Becoming an eSports Player

Now that the secret is out and people see that eSports players are earning big money, is there a millionaire's future in gaming for you?

It's not easy, as gamers frequently bring up the lack of sleep and hours of practice it takes to become a major league gamer. But if you put in the work and catch a break or two, fame and fortune await those who make it to the top of the eSports world.

Chances are, those who did so followed some or all of the following steps:

They Chose to Specialize In One Game

Players who've made it to the various eSports gaming circuits say the key was to find one prominent game they were good at and keep playing and grinding until they were beating all challengers. Subscribing to a gaming service like on Xbox Live makes it easy to play a variety of popular games against competitors all over the world. That's the training it takes to get a reputation and become a professional gamer.

Don't Be Afraid to Lose

When you're online training to become a gamer, don't be afraid to lose. Gamers who have made it to the professional level say they learned a lot through losing at games like "Call of Duty" or "Fortnite." By studying the best tactics, the best gamers accumulate the knowledge needed to eventually upgrade their own skills and start winning more games.

Play Fair and Emphasize Character

The best gamers say a big step for them was joining an online community and learning to become a part of a team. That helped them learn (and abide by) the rules, develop an "us" and not "me" attitude, and becoming a team player - all traits needed to make it in the eSports world.

Start Entering Tournaments

Like a professional golfer who gets off the practice range and starts teeing it up against his peers for real, entering tournaments will allow you to test your skills among premier players. You won't know for sure if you have what it takes to become a professional gamer if you don't compete in online or local tournament play. Start signing up and see where you stand as a gamer among your peers.

Get Sponsors

When you do start to break through and win marquee tournaments, you'll start to get noticed. A good sponsor can provide the financial assistance and computing equipment needed to play with the best on the professional level. By networking and getting word of mouth advice on sponsors, great players can get the help they needed to reach the professional eSports level.

eSports Moves Beyond The Virtual

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Esports Moves Beyond The Virtual: Building Homes For A Huge New Industry To Move Into The Real World

Several years ago, Philadelphia software company founder John Fazio and some work buddies were gaming in an esports arena, though they didn’t know that’s what it was. The world wasn’t ready for that yet.

“We were a bunch of engineering nerds hanging out in a North Philly warehouse. We were just hanging out after work ... playing video games,” Fazio remembers.

Fast forward a few years and Fazio, now CEO of Nerd Street Gamers, and his company are among the players at the forefront of the next step in esports: building the places where gamers can play, hang out together and watch the games.

Esports is now an established industry, expected to bring in more than $1 billion in worldwide revenue this year, about 40% of that in the United States, and working its way ever closer to the cultural mainstream. But it’s happened mostly in a niche e-world, where players play — and watch each other play — on the internet.

Build It

But now, esports is moving into physical spaces, with gamers playing not just on Twitch or YouTube, but together in the “real world,” allowing for the communal type of event that has made other sports a big part of community culture.

And it needs places.

It needs esports arenas similar to stadiums where other sports take place, big venues where large groups come for tournaments. It also needs smaller spaces where amateur players can join the community and play on the high-powered gaming computers professionals use, and where leagues can be held.

Both are taking off, and major brands beyond the gaming industry, like Comcast Spectacor, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation CMCSA 0.15%, MGM Resorts International MGM 1.61% and even discount retailer Five Below Inc. FIVE 0.79% are investing in what many see as the next wave of esports opportunity.

The First

The Esports Arena, which opened in 2015 in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Ana, claims to be the first venue specifically designed for esports competitions in the United States.

Esports Arena has since expanded beyond its Orange County roots, and now has other facilities around the country, thanks to a multimillion-dollar investment by Chinese Esports company Allied Esports.

Among its facilities is the HyperX Esports Arena, in MGM’s Luxor Hotel on the Vegas Strip. One publication called the “Yankee Stadium of Esports.”

The Biggest

The 100,000 square foot, $10 million, Esports Stadium Arlington opened last year in Texas as the largest dedicated esports facility in the country. The venue, part of the Arlington Convention Center, was also intended by its builders to push the communal potential of gaming.

While there is no doubt esports can fill some big venues — competitions have sold out major all-purpose arenas — Esports Arena founders Paul Ward and Tyler Endres noted in a Sports Business Journal story that the smaller spaces are important.

“Most people will experience esports in either their bedrooms or a mega event at the Staples Center or KeyArena,” Ward told the publication. “We think the actual sweet spot is in between those two things.”

That’s also the model for Fazio’s Nerd Street Gamers, which has as its mission broadening access to esports. While its facilities can host big tournaments, it's aimed at making e-gaming accessible to players who aren’t necessarily pros - grassroots building of the game.

Nerd Street Gamers has built a business around its chain of Localhost Esports gaming centers where amateur gamers can play on the high-powered gaming computers the professionals use. The centers are also used for tournaments.

Nerd Street Gamers recently joined the list of firsts in esports venues, teaming up with Comcast Spectacor to open the first esports space in a professional sports stadium, opening a Localhost gaming center at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, home to the NBA’s 76ers and the NHL’s Flyers.

That hockey night crowd might find a new pursuit, Fazio said, if they happen to walk into the Nerd Street Localhost space between periods. The next Wednesday night, maybe they’ll show up to play video games with their buddies.

“We target them with the beer league model,” Fazio said.

Nerd Street also recently partnered with Philadelphia-based retail chain Five Below to build dozens of Localhost gaming facilities attached to Five Below Stores.

Fazio says the time to build out an infrastructure for esports is now, predicting that tens of thousands of facilities could exist in a decade or so.

“In a 10- to 15-year timeline, esports is not only going to be the largest form of competitive entertainment,” Fazio said. “It will be the largest form of entertainment.”

eSports Comedy CBS

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eSports Comedy Scores Put Pilot Order at CBS

CBS has given out a put pilot order for a comedy set in the world of eSports, Variety has learned.

The untitled single-camera series follows a recently retired pro basketball star who attempts to reconnect with his estranged son by buying an eSports franchise. Dan Kopelman will write and executive produce. Aaron Kaplan and Dana Honor of Kapital Entertainment will also executive produce along with Rick Fox. Warner Bros. Television, where Kopelman is under an overall deal, will serve as the studio.

The series is no doubt particularly resonant for Fox, himself a former basketball star who became a co-owner of eSports team “Echo Fox” back in 2015. The team currently competes across a number of titles including “Super Smash Bros.” and “Fortnite.”

Kopelman previously created the CBS comedy series “Me, Myself, and I.” His other credits include “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Big Wolf on Campus,” “Galavant,” and “Rules of Engagement.”

Most recently, it was announced that CBS had given a pilot production commitment to “The United States of Al,” a multi-camera comedy that hails from “The Big Bang Theory” creator Chuck Lorre and “Big Bang Theory” executive producers David Goetsch and Maria Ferrari. That series follows a former Marine who returns home to Iowa, with his Afghan interpreter joining him to start a new life in America.

Comcast Spectacor

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Comcast Spectacor targets lucrative esports market, launches venture with Korean partner

Comcast Spectacor and SK Telecom of South Korea on Tuesday officially launched T1 Entertainment & Sports, a global esports joint venture aimed at capitalizing on the fast-growing world of competitive online gaming.

Joe Marsh, most recently chief business officer for Comcast Spectacor's gaming division and its Philadelphia Fusion Overwatch League team, has been named CEO of T1. He will be based in Philadelphia. John Kim, founder of Akshon Media and former CEO of Meta Gaming, will serve as chief operating officer based out of Seoul. The new venture also has operations in Los Angeles.

Founded in 1996 as a sports and entertainment partnership involving Comcast Corp. and entrepreneur Ed Snider, Comcast Spectacor is headquartered at 3601 South Broad St. in Philadelphia.

Plans for the new 30-person venture were first disclosed in February when the companies agreed to create a global esports organization supporting competitive teams as well as events in the online-gaming space. The deal comes amid predictions the esports industry will top the $1 billion revenue threshold this year.

T1 Entertainment & Sports' portfolio includes the SK Telecom T1 League of Legends (LoL) Champions Korea team currently competing for a fourth title in the LoL World Championship. In addition, T1 owns and operates teams in competitive gaming segments that include Fortnite, Dota 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Super Smash Bros., Hearthstone and Apex Legends.

“T1 immediately becomes one of the premier esports organizations in the world," said Dave Scott, chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectaor, a division of Comcast Corp. "We are looking forward to strengthening its presence in this dynamic space as we move forward.”

The Philadelphia Fusion Overwatch League franchise is not part of T1 and will remain fully owned and operated by Comcast Spectacor. Earlier this month Comcast Spectacor, which also owns the Philadelphia Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center, hosted a ground-breaking ceremony for its $50 million esports arena being built in South Philadelphia at the stadium complex.