The Next Level Joins Nielsen's eSports Advisory Board

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.

Disney's eSports Opportunity: 1 Year Later

DISNEY'S ESPORTS OPPORTUNITY: 1 YEAR LATER

Disney's eSports Opportunity: 1 Year Later (Photo: Time)

Disney's eSports Opportunity: 1 Year Later (Photo: Time)

TNL Take: Yesterday alone, there was an eSports news flurry:

And we end the day with this tiny news.

August 8, 2017: Variety: ob Iger: Disney Sets ‘Extremely Important Strategic Shift’ With Movie, ESPN Streaming Launches

August 30, 2016: The Next Level: Sports Media Evolution: Disney's Opportunity

Almost 1 year ago I looked at the various opportunities that Disney had across their wide media and distribution network.

Here is last year's article unedited now updated with what Disney has done within eSports across 8 different areas:

 

 /01 ESPN ESPORTS

ESPN eSports (Photo: ESPN)

ESPN eSports (Photo: ESPN)

When it comes to Disney and eSports we have to naturally start with ESPN.  When ESPN and eSports gets mentioned it's usually with two quotes:

ESPN President John Skipper said in 2014 after Amazon bought Twitch for $1B what he thought of eSports:

“It’s not a sport — it’s a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition. Mostly, I’m interested in doing real sports.”

ESPN host Colin Cowherd said in 2015 that "he would retire if was forced to cover eSports":

Both of those sound anachronistic in less than two years but the truth is ESPN has changed their messaging - and so has Colin Cowherd.

Since 2014, ESPN has aired 300+ hours of eSports programming and dedicated a whole Sunday in July airing 18 hours across ESPN2 and ESPNU.

ESPN has also run three eSports programs this year and compared against E LEAGUE has performed fairly well; with EA Madden even beating E LEAGUE's Finals in the 18-49 Demo - usual qualifying statement on what analysis of early data means.

ESPN2 vs. E LEAGUE (Infographic: The Next Level)

ESPN2 vs. E LEAGUE (Infographic: The Next Level)

That’s only on the TV side.

ESPN has also done a good job on the content side with ESPN eSports and I’d even put them ahead of Turner’s Bleacher Report.

However with Yahoo eSports recent deal with ESL, which will bring actual live content, exclusive tournaments and new integrated Brand opportunities to Verizon’s properties; ESPN eSports is behind…for now.

 

1 YEAR LATER

What's ESPN eSports done?

We know what happened with Yahoo eSports.

ESPN eSports has been the leader in reporting and especially breaking news. Definitely an uptick in amount of content as well.

Here's where it gets really interesting.

Last year, they had 3 eSports events on ESPN2. The total is now 16 to date across ESPN's flagship channel, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes and DisneyXD  - with a huge new Sunday programming slate.

✔️

TNL Infographic 054: eSports On ESPN Networks and DisneyXD (Infographic: The Next Level)

TNL Infographic 054: eSports On ESPN Networks and DisneyXD (Infographic: The Next Level)

 

/02 VICE

Vice Gaming (Photo: Vice)

Vice Gaming (Photo: Vice)

I’m a huge fan of Vice.

Sure I miss some of their edgier magazine content but I’m still amazed at how these guys are worth $5B after watching them party across from my Brooklyn apartment in 2002.

Vice has clearly grown up but there still isn’t one content company which nails youth programming like these guys.

That’s why I’ve said repeatedly that someone is going to create the Vice for eSports – and it may even be Vice themselves after hiring Giant Bomb Editor Austin Walker.

Vice launched their Gaming vertical over a year ago and I was shocked at how much eSports content they covered. They’ve also naturally made one of the better eSports documentaries:

When Vice's new Gaming vertical launches, I'd expect even more eSports content. 

Disney's relationship is their $400M investment in Vice.

Disney, just go ahead and buy Vice.

 

1 YEAR LATER

What's Vice done?

Just launch a dedicated Gaming/eSports website and content called Waypoint.

Waypoint: Vice's Gaming and eSports Site (Photo: Vice)

Waypoint: Vice's Gaming and eSports Site (Photo: Vice)

Oh that last line about "Disney just go ahead and buy Vice".

Vice Valued At $5.7B (Photo: Hollywood Reporter/Getty/Bobby Bank)

Vice Valued At $5.7B (Photo: Hollywood Reporter/Getty/Bobby Bank)

$SNAP Snapping (Photo: Google Finance)

$SNAP Snapping (Photo: Google Finance)

Dear Bob Iger, as a world leader in content, Vice is the world leader in millennial focused content. You're launching an OTT network, Vice is perfect for digital. 

Assuming current valuation, Vice for 1/3 of Snapchat? That's an easy decision.

✔️

 

/03 BAMTech

MLBAM (Photo: MLB)

MLBAM (Photo: MLB)

Amazon has Twitch.

Activision-Blizzard has MLG.

Turner has NBATV.

Microsoft has Beam.

Owning both distribution and content is the quest everyone is after.

Now Disney has the same with their recent $1B investment into BAMTech, a tech company spun off from MLB Advanced Media - also huge kudos to the platform they've built.

Disney will use this BAMtech to create a standalone, cable-free digital streaming service without current linear ESPN content.

Now what type of content grew up on and is perfectly suited for this new platform?

 

1 YEAR LATER

What's BAMTech done?

An Exclusive $300M deal with Riot Games for League of Legends.

Disney now also has majority ownership of BAMTech, which will be the core driver for the future OTT/Digital platform.

✔️

 

/04 Disney Kids

Disney XD (Photo: Disney)

Disney XD (Photo: Disney)

I've spoken about my son's obsession with Minecraft and where Gaming and eSports will play a greater role in our education system.

There's a ripe opportunity to produce content at this early age. That may sound crazy but Disney actually did it already.

Twice.

Disney XD teamed with Nintendo last year to produce Clash of Karts: Mario Kart 8, one-hour show that put four teams of kids coached by YouTube influencers in a Mario Kart tournament.

YouTube influencers and kids....

Previously, Disney XD aired a one-hour special based on the Nintendo World Championships 2015, based of the earliest eSports events - when it wasn't even called eSports - back in 1990.

Nintendo, absolutely bring Nintendo World Championships back bigger.

 

1 YEAR LATER

What's DisneyXD done?

Launch a Sunday Gaming/eSports programming slate starting with the 2017 EVO Finals featuring Street Fighter.

The Next Level is working on something special on DisneyXD and will dive deeper into that.

You can also hear ESL North American CEO, Craig Levine talk about the partnership on The Next Level eSports Guest Podcast

✔️

 

/05 DISNEY PARKS

Disney's Upcoming Star Wars Theme Park (Photo: Disney)

Disney's Upcoming Star Wars Theme Park (Photo: Disney)

There have already been many eSports events in both California and Orlando, with Activision's huge Call of Duty XP event happening this weekend. 

Disney launched a program called Early Magic which lets guests into the Parks earlier with breakfast and other goodies. 

Just replicate the same type of thing for eSports.

 

1 YEAR LATER

What's Disney Parks done?

Considering holding eSports events at their 8,000 seat venue.

There's also a massive opportunity with EA's next Star Wars title.

✔️

 

/06 CHINA

Disney Shanghai (Photo: Disney)

Disney Shanghai (Photo: Disney)

Out of all the potential upside, this maybe the most difficult.

I've had an unabashed love of China and eSports over the past year and believe there's a huge market there.

While there's Disney Shanghai I'm not sure if they have deeper Chinese investment.

And there's that thing of China's richest man saying "I'll see your $5B bet and raise you another $5B".

 

1 YEAR LATER

What's Disney done in China?

As I mentioned, this would be the hardest one. The Next Level will also have some special news on China tomorrow.

 

/07 DISNEY GAMING

It's a shame that Disney shut down their Gaming division earlier this year. I felt that the Disney Infinity hardware/software bundle that Activision's Skylanders pulled off was a good product.

There's an obvious eSports connection here if Disney still had their old studio. I won't go deeper into why they shuttered that division as Jess Conduit already did a great overview

 

1 YEAR LATER

What's Disney Gaming done?

While not specific to Disney Gaming, Disney launched an accelerator program that includes axiomatic and Epic Games, publisher of Lawbreakers and one of the first to integrate with Discord.

✔️

 

/08 LUCASFILM AND MARVEL

Marvel and Lucasfilm (Photo: WDParkhoppers)

Marvel and Lucasfilm (Photo: WDParkhoppers)

Disney's purchase of both Marvel and Lucasfilm for a combined $8B is going to go down as one of the smartest bets on content ever.

Spotify is valued at $8B - which would you rather have?

Disney has the license to two solid eSports titles: EA's Stars Wars Battlefront and Marvel's Contest of Champions Mobile game.

Again the notion of calling something "eSports" is still debatable but in this case it's pure revenue sourced from internal sources or licenses.

 

1 YEAR LATER

What's Disney done with Lucasfilm and Marvel?

Take back the content from Netflix of which will definitely be included in the OTT/Digital service.  While nothing specific on the eSports side, the potential for both titles and content is endless.

✔️

 

CONTENT IS KING

I can't stop focusing on the whole idea of IP, Brand and Content. Not only from a Media perspective but from just a personal/business perspective as well.

Everyone today is - or should be - a Media Brand.

While Disney has a lot of core assets where eSports can provide accretive value, it's missing one huge piece:

Content.

There was that ridiculous previous rumor of Disney spending $500M to license Riot's League of Legends. - which I think is crazy.

Anyone want to buy some Olympics TV content?

While that price tag is high, Ill go ahead and say this:

Disney is going to make a large eSports content deal in the next 6 months.

 

1 YEAR LATER

So what's Disney done?

They signed the $300M BAMTech deal 4 months after the article. Content continues to remain king. Now Disney adds their own distribution. Increase and investment in 7 out of 8 is pretty good.

 

Well done Disney and ESPN team. 

eSports Week In Review | Brand Investment On Pace To Double, US Investment Hits ~$100M, Tencent's Kids Gaming Limits

ESPORTS WEEK IN REVIEW | BRAND INVESTMENT ON PACE TO DOUBLE, US INVESTMENT HITS ~$100M, TENCENT'S KIDS GAMING LIMITS

eSports Week In Review. That's A Xbox Controller (Photo: Xbox)

eSports Week In Review. That's A Xbox Controller (Photo: Xbox)

TNL Take: What a week for eSports. The biggest news being finally some release of information on Activision-Blizzard's upcoming Overwatch League which The Next Level will cover next week and look at two areas that I don't believe have been fully analyzed yet.

This week, 2017 US eSports investment is almost $100M, 60+ brands sponsored eSports in the first of 2017 - which is on pace to double 2016 and China's Tencent's limitations on kids mobile gaming.

 

 

MONDAY 07/10

2017 US ESPORTS INVESTMENT HITS ~$100M
 

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

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

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

AEG Invests In eSports Team Immortals (Graphic: The Next Level)

AEG Invests In eSports Team Immortals (Graphic: The Next Level)

Matcherino Raises $1.5M (Photo: Matcherino)

Matcherino Raises $1.5M (Photo: Matcherino)

TNL Infographic 050: 2017 eSports Brand Investment (Graphic: Jordan Fragen)

TNL Infographic 050: 2017 eSports Brand Investment (Graphic: Jordan Fragen)

Note: CenturyLink and SFR will be moved to Telco

 

THURSDAY 07/13

China's Tencent Imposes Limits On Kid's Mobile Gaming

Talking Tencent On China Global Television Network (Photo: CGTN)

Talking Tencent On China Global Television Network (Photo: CGTN)

 

Have a great weekend!

China's Tencent Imposes Limits On Kid's Mobile Gaming

CHINA'S TENCENT IMPOSES LIMIT'S ON KID'S MOBILE GAMING

Talking Tencent On China Global Television Network (Photo: CGTN)

Talking Tencent On China Global Television Network (Photo: CGTN)

TNL Take: I'm absolutely fascinated by Tencent.

They're the world's largest gaming company and dominate eSports.

Tencent's eSports Domination (Graphic: The Next Level)

Tencent's eSports Domination (Graphic: The Next Level)

They acquired the largest independent mobile gaming company Supercell at a whopping $10B valuation.

Tencent and Supercell (Photo: Tencent)

Tencent and Supercell (Photo: Tencent)

As Chinese and US legal laws are vastly different to put it mildly, it was very interesting to see Tencent take action themselves and limit kids mobile gaming time on their massive hit "Honour of Kings".

Before we get to the restrictions some quick stats on how big this game is:

  • Monthly users are estimated between 160M -200M
  • 2017 revenue is estimated between $1B - $1.5B
  • Tencent is looking at building a theme park around this game alone

These restrictions came from parents complaining about their kids "addiction" to the game and teachers annoyed by the distraction in schools - aka the Chinese fidget spinner.  Tencent's restrictions are pretty amazing for a Chinese company that's not required to do this:

  • Kids under 12 can only play for 1 hour and not after 9pm
  • Those between 12-18 can play for 2 hours

How does this game compare to the US? How does this affect Tencent's financials? Will other Chinese companies follow suit? Are there US examples of similar restrictions?

I chatted with Rachelle Akuffo with Chinese Global Television Network's on their "Global Business America" show to discuss this further.