The Next Level Joins Nielsen's eSports Advisory Board


The Next Level Joins Nielsen's eSports Advisory Board (Photo: Nielsen)

The Next Level Joins Nielsen's eSports Advisory Board (Photo: Nielsen)

I'm thrilled to announce that The Next Level has joined Nielsen's newly launched eSports advisory board as part of Nielsen Esports to provide insight on audience measurement and validation.

-Manny Anekal

The list of advisory board members:

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

Nielsen today announced the launch of Nielsen Esports, a new business vertical focused on competitive gaming that will leverage the company’s expertise and leadership in media consumption and valuation. Nielsen Esports will provide sponsorship valuation, fan insights, custom industry research and consulting services to rights holders, media platforms and brands around the world that are moving this fast-growing market forward.

Esports has experienced massive global growth over the past few years with major investment from blue chip sponsors, game publishers and media companies, as well as sports leagues and teams. The esports fan base is also rapidly expanding with nearly one in three fans beginning to follow esports just within the past year, according to new Nielsen Esports research.

“There’s a high demand for reliable, independent measurement of value in esports,” said Howard Appelbaum, President, Nielsen Entertainment. “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.”

Recognizing the need for consistent sponsorship valuation in esports, Nielsen developed Esport24, a syndicated sponsorship tracking service for esports tournaments. 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.

Nielsen Esports will also release global fan insights throughout the year, with a new research offering spanning the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, and China in 2017.

As part of this new business vertical, Nielsen has created an esports advisory board of industry stakeholders who will provide insight to help shape the future of esports audience measurement and valuation. Members include representatives from ESL, ESPN, Facebook, FIFA, Major League Gaming/Activision Blizzard, NBA 2K eLeague, The Next Level, Sony PlayStation, Turner, Twitch, Twitter, Unilever, and Google YouTube.

Females: The Hidden eSports Audience - Part 1

Females: The Hidden eSports Audience - Part 1

CS:GO Women Tournament At ESWC (Photo: ESWC)

CS:GO Women Tournament At ESWC (Photo: ESWC)

TNL Take: I've been in the Gaming industry for over a decade now and there's a phrase that still hasn't gone away: "Boys In The Basement".

It's the continued stereotype that gamers are just kids drinking Dew and screaming MOM from the bottom floor.

Yet 75% of Xbox owners are of legal drinking age - as is the eSports audience - and almost half of them make $100,000+. 51% of Xbox owners have kids.

Those aren't boys.

While this stereotype will hopefully change with the continued growth and investment within eSports, there's another stereotype that could be potentially worse: Women don't play or watch video games.

Which couldn't be further from the truth.

IEM Kotawice (Photo: ESL)

A few years back, the IAB released a study that said that women made up 52% of the gaming audience, up from 49% from 2 years prior.

6 years ago when I led Brand Advertising for Social Gaming company Zynga, I said "the 40 year old Mom is the new hardcore gamer".

All the data is there yet females participating within eSports and from an audience perspective are still minimized.

2017 is the year this will start to change.

/01 The Female eSports Audience

What's the real Female eSports audience? I analyzed 8 different research studies and found the following:

The Female Audience In eSports (Infographic: The Next Level)

By the end of 2017, the Female eSports audience could be almost 30% of the total.

/02 Overwatch Will Help

Stephanie "missharvey" Harvey (Photo: Intel)

The other day I was eating at a local NYC chain that's one of those "yoga-pants-and-quinoa" joints (I was literally the only one not coming from yoga apparently).

As I began to dig into my organic chicken and kale, I overheard the table of 4 women next to me chatting about the latest Overwatch patch.

I was floored.

Naturally I began talking to them about why they liked Overwatch.  Outside of the main reason being it's a fun game to play; Overwatch's graphics are uniquely suited for the Female aesthetic.

As almost all Female-only teams are primarily First Person Shooters - Call of Duty or Counter-Strike - I'd look to Overwatch to continue to drive Female engagement and viewership within eSports.


/03 Female Only Leagues

IEM Katowice Female Only Tournament (Photo: ESL)

  • Commentator Jennifer Pichette started an all Female Call of Duty League
  • YouTuber Zoie Burgher is starting her own Female eSports team
  • Missharvey is the founder of all Female team CLG Red, which is part of Counter Logic Gaming
  • Skylla is a 7-tournament Counter-Strike league which includes both Male and Female teams

However I'm not sure this is the answer.

In 2013, ESPN said the majority of the WNBA audience - 66% - was Men. The WNBA may not have even survived this long without significant investment from the NBA.

The most recent Women's World Cup Final between the US and Japan was watched by 61% Men.


/04 What's The Answer?

I wish life was that simple, that black and white. But it's not.

I'm not sure if there is a simple answer but I believe 2 things are critical:

Visibility: Maya Moore, considered to be the current Michael Jordan of the WNBA who also happens to be sponsored by Brand Jordan, wrote a great article on Women in Sports titled (In)Visibility

She writes that her exposure at UConn winning 2 National Championships in 4 years was significantly greater than after she went #1 in the WNBA draft and continued her career there.


Marketing: Just look at the visuals or the Rap-Rock/Hip-Hop track used in Video Game commercials and you can see they're clearly marketing to the Male audience - although it's estimated that women make up a higher % of the game playing audience and definitely on Mobile.

To keep and grow the Female game playing and viewing audience, the Marketing at its core needs to change.

I still think this Gears of War commercial featuring a cover of Tears For Fears "Mad World" by Gary Jules is one of the best ever made and easily appeals to both sexes.

/05 Female Focused Brands

The 50 Brands That Invested In eSports In 2016 (Graphic: The Next Level)

Last week I released the 50 Non-Endemic Brands that invested in eSports in 2016.

While there are some brands that appeal to both sexes - it's primarily Male driven Brands.

I believe that 2017 will see the first of hopefully many Female focused Brands enter eSports.

And if there's 1 Brand I want to see invest - it's Dove. They're forward thinking and I love their theme of "real beauty". 


In Part 2, I'll have a chat with 2 Women in the space from 2 different sides of the Gaming and eSports spectrum.