[toc]The largest horse race betting operator in Europe, Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU), has extended its journey into esports with a sponsorship deal agreed with soccer club Paris Saint-Germain.
The news makes PMU the second French betting operator to announce an esports interest in recent weeks. Française des Jeux launched three new esports tournament series in partnership with Webedia.
Webedia is also the technology behind Paris Saint-Germain’s new esports operation — PSG eSport— which launched in October 2016.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Director of Brand Diversification Fabien Allègre said:
“The arrival of PMU marks a turning point in the development of our eSport project. We are delighted to have won the confidence of this major player in the sport within just a few months of our launch. I am convinced that PMU’s expertise is going to enable us to further improve our performances and go to the next level.”
PMU will provide esports player statistics and competition data that PSG eSport will use to increase its supporters’ engagement with esports. No one has disclosed details of the deal, but the value of the deal is well into six figures.
The deal with PMU extends an existing relationship based on football sponsorship
In a comment to Dot Esports, PMU’s Marketing Director Samuel Loiseau said:
“We were already partners with Paris Saint-Germain on the football side and we are proud to extend our partnership and join the club in its ambitious esports project. We share the same ambition to become key players in the sector.”
One key takeaway from the deal is how traditional sports can access sponsorship for esports relatively quickly using their existing relationships.
PMU is primarily a horse race betting company. But when new gambling regulations came into existence in 2010, it branched out into sports betting and online poker.
The sports betting activities led it naturally into a sponsorship deal with PSG. That group is one of the most valuable soccer teams in France.
The pure sponsorship deal grew as PMU developed the data behind its sports betting operation. It turned it into useful content that could add extra value to the relationship.
Even though esports betting is not yet permitted under French law, PMU will be using the skills it has developed from sports betting to deliver data driven esports content to PSG.
Esports sponsors are quick to follow
PSG’s expertise in managing sponsorship relationships also tracks to supporting its esports vertical.
At the same time as announcing the deal with PMU, the club struck a deal with IT company ASUS. That will provide equipment to the esports team’s League of Legends and FIFA players.
Both PMU and ASUS will have their logos on PSG eSports player clothing.
— PSG Esports (@PSGeSports) March 1, 2017
Audience drives brand involvement, which drives revenues
The growing audience for esports is something that has encouraged traditional sports teams and non-endemic brands to invest in the industry.
The arrival of more global brands is one of the key factors behind industry forecasts for double-digit annual growth in esports revenues over the next five years.
In countries that allow esports betting, these factors would drive growth. In France, that growth will have to wait for the regulator ARJEL to add esports betting to its list of regulated activities.
ARJEL could implement esports betting in 2018
PMU, Française des Jeux and online poker operator Winamax have all become involved in esports. Now, the three largest online gambling companies in France are likely to be lobbying the regulator to legalize esports betting.
ARJEL moved fairly rapidly on adding daily fantasy sports to its list of legal betting options. ARJEL took around 18 months from first noting that the possible change to issuing the new regulations.
The French regulator could move as quickly with esports betting. If so, operators may be able to take their first bets sometime in 2018.