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Fortnite vs Wimbledon: how sports marketing has changed

Fortnite is redefining the playing field, writes MATT ARNOLD, chief engagement officer of VMLY&R South Africa

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The meteoric rise of eSports and professional gaming is nothing new, but as the industry starts to mature, we are seeing a dramatic shift in the tried and tested global sports formula. This shift affects multiple areas of sports including arguably the two biggest areas; viewership and sponsorship. As marketers, we are all very familiar with the shift from static broadcast channels to more dynamic and fragmented viewership, but you need go no further than eSports to see the pace of change and the impact this will have on the sports marketing industry.

We have recently watched two dramatically contrasting sports events unfold at different ends of the sporting spectrum; The Wimbledon Championship tennis tournament, and the Fortnite World Cup. These two unlikely tournaments have a lot in common despite their differing background and audiences, let’s look at some data:

WimbledonFortnite World Cup
Tournament heritage (years)1332
Winners Prize$2,864,000$3,000,000
Total Prize Pool$46,312,000$30,000,000
Spectator capacity39 00023 000
Participants (incl qualifying)79040 000 000
Online Mentions*164 991276 527
Final Viewership**9 600 0001 300 000
Primary PlatformTelevision BroadcastTwitch Streaming

*Mentions on twitter using related hashtags, sourced by Crimson Hexagon

**Wimbledon TV viewership calculated as total viewers, Fortnite Online viewers calculated as total concurrent viewers (CCV)

Despite the similarities in scale, the format of these events could not be more different. Tennis follows the traditional sporting mould, primarily focused on television broadcasting, while eSports makes use of online streaming platforms like Twitch. These streaming platforms provide their own fair share of problems, similar to the early days of internet advertising where everyone has different measurement parameters and tracking, making it difficult to compare viewership. This fragmented viewership makes it harder for brands to buy exclusive broadcast rights without angering fans, who are accustomed to the ease and availability of their favourite gaming streams.

The key difference with eSports is the accessibility, while I can easily count the number of times I have stepped onto a tennis court in the last year, I have played a significant amount of competitive games. We have a generation of players now who have grown up with gaming. They watch people play and they think they can get to that point when they play professionally themselves. If you watch a Wimbledon game, there are very few sane people who believe they can beat Novak Djokovic, but when you are at home and watching pros playing Fortnite or FIFA, a lot of people think, “I could beat that guy.” We can see this reflected in the 40 million players that tried out for the Fortnite World Cup qualifiers.

Of course, there are plenty of commercial sponsors and a never-ending array of opportunities, but the sports sponsorship takes on a different shape here. eSports fame is ephemeral. Players can be good one year and completely irrelevant the next due to gameplay changes, coaches leave to attend college and team names and ownership shift dramatically and often. All of this makes traditional sponsorship and team management difficult.

The players have grown up through internet fame and have tens of millions of subscribers before even reaching the heights of winning a big tournament. This results in a strong loyalty to those followers driving a stronger focus on authenticity, intimacy and content than in any other traditional sports setting. Brands that are wanting to wade into this world of endorsements need to be wary and ensure they do so in an authentic manner or risk alienating their prospective audiences.

As with all sports, commercial success is what drives the sport forward. Fortnite has a distinct advantage here with the underlying game (Fortnite) being owned entirely by a single entity, Epic Games. With over 250 million players globally, the game is an entertainment behemoth in its own right without the need for sponsors or broadcast partners. Epic Games have committed to investing over $100 million in prize money for Fortnite competitions this year alone.

With the world of eSports continuing to grow and the global scale and impact matching or even surpassing more traditional sporting activities, it’s important as marketers to keep abreast of these changes. The shift in broadcast channels, viewership patterns and mass participation lie at the core of the blossoming eSports industry, directly contradicting many of the established sporting monopolies. Grab your strawberries, cream and maybe a Red Bull to settle in to watch this fascinating era in sports viewership.

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Vodacom cuts cost of smallest bundle by 40%

The country’s largest mobile operator has kept to a promise made last month to slash the price of entry-level data packages

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Vodacom has cut the data price of its lowest-cost bundle by 40%, reducing the price of a 50MB 30-day bundle from R20 to to R12. This follows from the operator’s promise in March, when it announced a 33% cut in the cost of 1GB bundles, to reduce prices of all smaller bundles by up to 40%.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels, with the new pricing as follows:

30-day bundle size New Price Reduction
50MB R12 40%
150MB R29 33%
325MB R55 33%
500MB R79 21%
1GB R99 34%
3GB R229 23%
5GB R349 14%
10GB R469 22%
20GB R699 31%

Vodacom confirmed it will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect. The value of these initiatives, it says, is R2.7-billion over the next year.

“Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit. “Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also went live this week. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs. The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2-billion in savings for customers in 2019.

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OneBlade shaves price of electric precision

Electric razors and their blades are usually quite expensive. But the Philips OneBlade shaves the cost, writes SEAN BACHER

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Electric razors come in all shapes and forms and their prices vary as well. When your nearest electronic retail outlet opens again, you will be able to pay a small fortune for a wet and dry razor that cleans itself, shows you when it needs to be recharged, and tells you to replace the cleaning solution – all via a little LCD panel in the handle.

But does everyone want that? Does everyone need that? Surely there must be customers who want an easy-to-use, no-mess, no-fuss razor that gets the job done just as well as a “smart razor”?

With this in mind, Philips has launched its OneBlade wet and dry electric razor. The razor is dead simple to use. It comes with three stubble combs – 1mm, 3mm and 5 mm –  which can be clicked onto the head much like one would with a hair shaver. Should you want a really close shave, simply the combs off. I found this to be the most effective as I don’t have a beard.

The razor’s blade is the size of the striking side of a matchbox and has 90-degree angles all round. This offers precise shaving and, because of its small size, it is able to get just about anywhere on a person’s face.

The blade has a usage indicator that shows when it is time to replace the blade – usually after four months – and an additional blade is included in the box.

The OneBlade’s battery takes up to eight hours to charge, and will give up to 45 minutes shaving time.

Overall, the Philips OneBlade will give a man a comfortable and precise shave. Its battery life, combined with its size, makes it a perfect travel companion as it is no bigger than an electric toothbrush. Its relatively low price compared to other electric razors also counts in its favour.

The One Blade can be bought from most electronic retailers or can be ordered online from websites like takealot.com. The razor retails for R650 and a set of two new blades will cost around R450.

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