I am here in Boston, MA at the moment where I am collaborating with a Professor from Harvard Business School. Boston is just like my 6-7 weeks visit to San Francisco a city in which there is a high focus on the technology. This technology focus spreads across industries and the passionate texture of sports is definitely interesting as a monetizing platform for technology-driven innovation. Therefore, I decided to write this short follow-up post on my previous post about eSports and the synergetic effects obtained in collaboration with professional sports clubs.
With this in mind, there is a lot of potential in eSports. Fantasy sports products and providers, e.g. DraftKings , FanDuel and Football Manager (there are also free online sites, e.g. ESPN Fantasy), have found their spot in the market place (also in a US market where sports betting has not been liberalized as in Europe) for sports as a form of ‘independent’ liaison between sports rights owners (sports governing bodies, leagues, clubs/teams and athletes) and the commercial stakeholders of these rights owners. So what’s the motivation in seeing positive synergies from this intersection? Basically, eSports and fantasy sports as an associated entertainment product serve as a good analogy for the fact that it these platforms involve both ‘the sport of sports’ and ‘the business of sports’. My point is that there is positive correlation between the passionate engagement in specific sports, e.g. through eSports (FIFA 2018 from EA Sports as one example) or fantasy sport platforms like Football Manager or DraftKings, and the consumption of the same sports. So, what does this mean? Simply, I am stating that if people are engaged via these sports to a high extent and hence show an interest in the data and information about these sports, there is a higher probability that these people will consume other elements of the ecosystem in specific sports, e.g. will subscribe to media content, will buy tickets, will buy merchandise and so on. When being in a fantasy world in which you have ownership of a sports team, you are in this imaginary world of professional sports online that may make you realize: hey, I want to go and check out if the ‘real’ coach does a better job 🙂
Many of these companies in eSports and fantasy sports collect and use a lot of data so they are dependent on sports rights holders and other access points to data. However, these data are basic data and not as advanced as the data that the coaching staff usually applies. For instance, DraftKings will be interested in data about basic data like goals and assists whereas a coach will look at data from a more detailed perspective, e.g. when does a player’s level of acceleration drop and what does that mean for decision making. Nevertheless, there is a mutual interest in eSports and fantasy sports shaping sports consumption, which may be applied by rights owners for relevant fan engagement activities, e.g. side events, sponsorship integration and mediated content. In my latest post, I mentioned the synergies between VfL Wolfsburg and eSports in terms of having a team of FIFA players and this team can definitely be applied as a commercial vehicle to drive fan engagement activities while influencing commercialization positively. Thus, the brand associations between football on the pitch and FIFA or Football Manager are positive and could be pursued by more clubs in the search to connect with digital-savvy Millennials and younger generations. Let’s say that Coca-Cola wants access to the Millennial demographic that is interested in particular sports, then fantasy sport platforms may be a very precise promotional scene.