Nielsen’s New Esports Division Looks To ‘Optimize Investment Decisions’ In Industry

Written By Dustin Gouker on August 17, 2017 - Last Updated on January 22, 2018

[toc]Nielsen Entertainment announced on Thursday that it was launching an esports division on Thursday, a serious foray into the segment for the data company as more money continues to flow into the industry.

A closer look at Nielsen Esports

What will the new division do on the esports front?

Nielsen Esports will provide “sponsorship valuation, fan insights, custom industry research and consulting services to rights holders, media platforms and brands” in the esports market, according to a press release from the company.

“There’s a high demand for reliable, independent measurement of value in esports,” said Howard Appelbaum, president of Nielsen. “We’re excited to enhance our client offerings and provide the industry with solutions that will help guide and optimize investment decisions in this exciting, growing space.”

“The global, digital and young nature of esports fan base audience represents advertising’s most highly sought after segment, yet consistent and high quality data has been a challenge to measure and define,” said Craig Levine, CEO of North America, ESL. “We’re excited to partner with Nielsen and other industry leaders to guide the framework to measure esports sponsorships, shape the industry, and help further accelerate the esports industry overall.”

Nielsen reported that its research showed that a third of all esports fans have just started following the games in the past year. That’s part of the impetus for the company getting into the vertical.

Nielsen Esports also noted that it will have new research data later this year on esports.

A serious effort from Nielsen

The new effort from the company famed for its TV ratings is more than just window dressing, it appears. It’s certainly an escalation from reports put out by the company in the past.

The company also created an esports advisory board that called on many leaders in the industry. Included are representatives from:

  • ESL
  • ESPN
  • Facebook
  • FIFA
  • Major League Gaming/Activision Blizzard
  • NBA 2K League
  • Sony PlayStation
  • Turner
  • Twitch
  • Twitter
  • Google YouTube

Capturing streaming data for esports

Esports, with a few exceptions, is not typically consumed via television. Most of the consumption comes via online streaming. That’s a segment Nielsen was already trying to catch up on tracking outside of the esports industry.

Many of the partners listed above are involved in streaming of live esports. That includes the streaming service Twitch, whose bread and butter is esports:

“Nielsen has done a stellar job establishing itself as a popular and respected source for data, making its foray into the esports industry an exciting endeavor,” said Kristen Salvatore, VP/commercial director, esports and event sponsorships for Twitch. “With Twitch being an online epicenter for the live viewing of esports content, Nielsen’s research will tie directly to our community and makes our participation in the advisory board a natural fit.”

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What esports sponsorship is worth

Another interesting facet of the Nielsen Esports launch is the rollout of Esport24. Nielsen is calling that “a syndicated sponsorship tracking service for esports tournaments.”

Sponsors have been eager to foot the bill for esports events. But measuring that impact can sometimes be difficult in the current environment.

More from Nielsen Esports:

The service measures brand exposure in esports tournaments representing a variety of titles, event formats and geographic locations based on the same methodology that allows traditional sports rights holders and brands to quantify value and benchmark performance.

The playoff rounds of major 2017 esports tournaments measured by Esport24 to date, yielded anywhere from $75,000 to nearly $17 million in sponsorship value, emphasizing the need for standard metrics to help industry players understand the value they are providing, receiving, or missing out on, via brand activations in esports.

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. You can also find his work at Legal Sports Report.

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