Pro Hockey Slides Into eSports

PRO HOCKEY SLIDES INTO ESPORTS

EA Sports NHL 94 aka The Best Hockey Game Ever Made™ (Photo: Racketboy)

EA Sports NHL 94 aka The Best Hockey Game Ever Made™ (Photo: Racketboy)

TNL Take: We've seen a majority of European soccer clubs invest in eSports, the NBA taking the lead in the US and the MLS finally making its first move.

Now Pro Hockey is starting to slowly enter eSports - I so badly wanted to use "skate" but that's just awful. Ok, slide isn't that much better.

Either directly or through a consortium of sports investment, here's the history so far:

 

SEPTEMBER 2016: NEW JERSEY DEVILS

New Jersey Devils (Photo: New Jersey Devils)

New Jersey Devils (Photo: New Jersey Devils)

Washington Capitals (Photo: Wallpaper Cave)

Washington Capitals (Photo: Wallpaper Cave)

aXiomatic, became a new eSports joint venture between a massive amount of sports investors and athletes including Peter Guber (Warriors, Dodgers, LAFC)  and Ted Leonsis (Wizards, Capitals, Mystics, Valor, Verizon Center ) who bought a controlling stake in Team Liquid.

 

NOVEMBER 2016: IFK HELSINKI

Finland's Helsinki Reds eSports Team (Photo: IFK)

Finland's Helsinki Reds eSports Team (Photo: IFK)

Finland was the first country to make a direct investment when Helsinki based Hockey club IFK Helsinki launched an Overwatch team under the name Helsinki REDS.

I spoke with IFK's Sales Manager Jussi Patjas about why they got involved.

 

FEBRUARY 2017: BOSTON BRUINS

Boston Bruins (Photo: Wallpaper Cave)

Boston Bruins (Photo: Wallpaper Cave)

Delaware North, parent company of Boston's TD Garden and home of the Boston Bruins - which is also owned by Delaware North chairman Jeremy Jacobs - announced a strategic investment with eSports team Splyce.

I spoke with Splyce Co-Founder Marty Strenczewilk on the investment and what it means for both Delaware North and the team going forward.

 

JUNE 2017: TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo: Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo: Tampa Bay Lightning

The latest hockey investment is Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik who becomes an investor and co-chair of eSports super group aXiomatic.

Like other aXiomatic investors, Vinik is also involved in multiple sports properties including a minority owner of Fenway Sports Group (Boston Red Sox, LFC) and owns Arena Football team Tampa Bay Storm.

 

WHY HOCKEY?

 

Just like the NBA has driven US Sports league investment in eSports, if a team doesn't have a standalone arena, they usually play in an NBA Arena (Ex: New York Knicks and New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden).

Why do Pro Sports teams invest in eSports?

 

This.

Wizards, Warriors and Magic Buy eSports Franchise Team Liquid

Wizards, Warriors and Magic Buy eSports Franchise Team Liquid

Wizards, Warriors and Magic Buy eSports Franchise Team Liquid (Photo: Team Liquid)

TNL Take: On Monday night, I looked at the various reasons why the Philadelphia 76ers would buy two eSports teams.

I went further and said the next three teams to make the move would be the 49ers, Dolphins and Dodgers.

And it happened the next day.

aXiomatic, a new eSports joint venture between a Justice League of investors including Peter Guber (Warriors, Dodgers, LAFC) , Ted Leonsis (Wizards, Capitals, Mystics, Valor, Verizon Center ) Magic Johnson and Steve Case (AOL), bought top North American eSports squad Team Liquid.

This is a great return for Steve and Victor, co-founders of Team Liquid, who have been one of the many team owners to dedicate serious time, effort and resources into building this over years.

I won’t go into the reasons again why traditional Sports team investment in eSports makes sense prior to my “Traditional Sports Invade eSports” 2017 update soon.

If you're involved in traditional Sports, Media, or Technology or just care about eSports future, read this interview with ESPN's Darren Rovell and the investors of why eSports makes sense.

Outside of why this makes complete sense, here's whats interesting to me:

/01 AXIOMATIC

Both Guber and Leonsis could easily have pulled off an eSports investment by themselves.

So why did they partner?

I don't have an answer for that but the combination of both companies is massive.

Although aXiomatic as a Brand name is terrible.

 

/02 ENTERTAINMENT

I've talked repeatedly about the need for quality eSports content. Peter Guber's Mandalay Entertainment has produced both documentaries and TV shows.

Now just slide in eSports.

 

/03 MONUMENTAL SPORTS AND DISTRIBUTION

Ted's son Zach Leonsis is the VP of Monumental Sports Network, a digital platform comprised of over 20 websites, blogs and affiliate sites offering live and on-demand programming

eSports is a perfect fit.

As I said in The Next Level 053, my “Dumbbell Theory of Media” the future of Media lies either in Content and Distribution and not in the middle.

The Dumbbell Theory Of Media (Photo: The Next Level)

However if you can pull off both – that’s the Holy Grail for any Media company.

As I already called the Dodgers involvement, Ill take this a step further:

 

The next major eSports investment will come from the NFL