TNL eSports Startups 010: Super League Gaming Gets $15M From Media, Sports and Entertainment

TNL ESPORTS STARTUPS 010: SUPER LEAGUE GAMING

TNL eSports Startups 010: Super League Gaming (Graphic: The Next Level)

TNL eSports Startups 010: Super League Gaming (Graphic: The Next Level)

TNL Take: I love Super League Gaming. I love their product. I love their people. I love their model.

I've covered SLG a few times but let me give a TL/DR for the adults that have those walking petri dishes called kids:

It is an organized league where kids can play non-violent games, be part of a community that they love and in a safe place - the movie theater.

TNL eSports Startups 010: Super League Gaming (Graphic: The Next Level)

TNL eSports Startups 010: Super League Gaming (Graphic: The Next Level)

Super League Gaming recently announced a $15M Series C funding round from a superstar team including Nickelodeon, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff VinikaXiomatic, "multiple other pro sports team owners" and DMG Entertainment.

The last one is even more interesting because DMG Entertainment - a global media and entertainment production/distribution company - is launching, wait for it, an eSports division.  DMG is more than likely using their extensive knowledge and experience in China to help bring Super League Gaming to that massive market as well.

Back to Super League Gaming -  Why does the combination of eSports and movie theaters make so much sense? 

  • Real estate ROI
  • Multiple locations
  • Community based experience
  • Monetization

To hear more about Super League Gaming, here's TNL eSports Guest Podcast 002 with their SVP, Andy Babb, earlier this year:

Super League Gaming's League of Legends City Based League (Photo: Super League Gaming)

Super League Gaming's League of Legends City Based League (Photo: Super League Gaming)

There hasn't been much news on how the league is performing - and I've heard directly from theater owners of lack of attendance in certain cities . I'd speculate that this roll out and it's potential in Asia is what drove the investment and high valuation and will be interesting to see if a city-based league of this nature is ready; but I'd like to wait for more real data.

I do want to focus on what they started with and what I could be a huge opportunity: Minecraft.

I believe that Microsoft's $2.5B acquisition of Minecraft will go down as one of the best buys ever - along with Google/YoutubeFacebook/Instagram, Disney/Marvel/Lucasfilm and Amazon/Twitch.

The easiest way to understand the phenomenon that is Minecraft is not to spend $2,000 on a research report - go spend an hour at an elementary school.

There are 383 results on Amazon for "minecraft birthday party supplies". I've been to more kid's Minecraft birthday parties than BBQ's in Brooklyn.

Microsoft worked with Code.org to help make a Minecraft version to "train" kids to code using the game - I highly recommend it.

Now combine this with Microsoft's acquisition of streaming platform Beam and you can see it's continued future investment in Minecraft is just beginning.

And how's Minecraft just as a game performing?

Microsoft doesn't break out Minecraft revenues separately but here's how the $7 app has ranked on Paid Apps on iTunes.

Minecraft App Chart Rank (Photo: App Annie)

Minecraft App Chart Rank (Photo: App Annie)

Don't believe me. Get your iPhone right now. Go to the App Store. I 99.9% guarantee you Minecraft is the #1 paid app.

Congrats to the team at Super League Gaming and I'll end with a quote I say in every conversation I have about the company:

 

Where else are you going to find a babysitter for 3 hours for $20?

Microsoft's Beam Buy Is More About Minecraft Than Twitch

Microsoft's Beam Buy Is More About Minecraft Than Twitch

(Photo: Microsoft)

TNL Take: 7:17 AM conversation with an 8 year old.

"Dad, stop please."

What about this?  Instead of just watching Stampy, you can actually tell him what to do and interact with him. Wouldn't that be cool? 

"You're blocking the iPad." 

This company Beam is going to do that. You're going to like it.

"Dad! I'm watching Stampy!"

 

He had no idea what I'm talking about.

You have no idea what I'm talking about.

Here's the deal.

 

When I was a kid way back in that Mesozoic Age called The '80's, my TV consumption primarily consisted of morning and afternoon cartoons inside of a big, black box.

For my young son today, his "TV" is 99% Netflix or YouTube on an iPad and 50% of that are Minecraft videos hosted by the ever affable Brit, Stampy Longnose or Stampy Longhead or Stampy Cat.

You don't need to bother to look him up.

This is 25 year old Joseph Garrett as his Passport says and I'd estimate that he'll bring in $5M this year on Minecraft related content and Sponsorships.

(Photo: DailyMail UK)

 

My son is obsessed with him

 

You went through that to give you a sense of the massive audience reach and engagement potential of Microsoft's purchase of live streaming service Beam yesterday.

I included Beam in my "War On Twitch" article in June and this will require a much longer dive - and will be added to the pile of article updates needed.

Beam is a live streaming service like Twitch and many others but the one distinct feature is the ability for the audience to direct the streamer during gameplay - go this direction, use this weapon, go on this quest, etc.

 

Here's a few quick points on the late news from yesterday:

 

/01 Seattle

Beam is based there. And so is Microsoft.

 

/02 Team

By my quick estimate, Beam went from Beta in January, to winning TechCrunch Disrupt in May, to an acquisition by Microsoft in August.

8 months.

Should tell you how the team executes right there.

 

/03 Cost

Beam had only raised $420K in seed funding outside of the Disrupt prize money. I'm just going to throw out a $10M acquisition price just for comparison sake.

Microsoft bought the In Game Advertising startup I worked for Massive Inc. for about $200M.

In 2006.

In 2010 - they closed the business.

 

Also nice return for the investors in Beam.

 

 

/04 First Minecraft.  Then Twitch and eSports

In the near term, this is going to be about integration into 1st party Microsoft games like Minecraft and the upcoming Sea of Thieves, which is all about multiplayer gameplay.

Long term, there are much wider implications across eSports, broadcasting and distribution.

 

What does this mean for other startups and companies in the live streaming space?

 

Activision-Blizzard has MLG.

Disney has BAMTech.

Microsoft has Beam.

China has 100+ live streaming services.

 

Prediction: EA and PlayStation as the next - and maybe last few - big Buyers in the live streaming and eSports space.