SPOBIS Gaming and Media Live Blog

The SPOBIS Gaming and Media summit has brought together top decision-makers from the gaming, media and advertising industries, as well as those from the sports world. Organised by German sport company SPONSORs and held in Cologne just before the start of Gamescom, this international conference seeks to help esports and sports professionals tap into their potential synergies.

The Esports Observer brings you live updates from the conference’s various presentations, discussions and events.


Esports Panel


16:10 –
Robert asks Jan about the notion of traditional media rights, and whether he sees anything in it. Jan Pommer from ESL says that esports can work with linear TV, but the monetization isnt as large compared to traditional sports. There is a demand, he says, and it can win new fans from the esport target group. However, this global grassroots of esports, he says, wants their games to be broadcasted openly, and free.

16:05 – Alexander says that 10 years ago they were asked if they wanted to go into TV, but if TV does not want the esports community, they will build their own destination. Samee with the games – this is how esports developed. He believes esports can be present in linear TV, but it is not the target for him.

16:03 – The panel facilitator, Robert Muller, Managing director for Lagardere Sports, asks if there is a rivalry between Twitch and other live video platforms, like Facebook. Simon says esports is a global and digital phenomenon – the audience live on digital platforms, not in front of the TV. He says it should remain like that, and, turning to Alexander, says that SK Gaming’s Brazilian players are an example that esports cannot be local.

16:00 – Simon Koschel is asked how Twitch buys the rights to esports matches and events. He says that the interest in esports from Twitch’s founding members helped the site’s growth in the scene, and over the last seven years both entities grew together – making esports a natural fit for Twitch.

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15:55 – Alex Muller is asked what rights he has over his team. He says he has the name, branding etc., which sponsors can use to share their promotional message. He says for the individual events, his team does not have a lot of influence – that’s OK, that’s similar to football. However, as a team, they are in cooperation with Twitch. All the players stream on Twitch. This is a right the team retains, and uses massively.

15:50 – The last part of the esports segment is a discussion on legal issues in esports, with Jan Pommer of ESL, Alexander Muller – the CEO of SK: Gaming and Simon Koschel, partnerships manager for Twitch DE.

15:20 – A slide showing which brands are most accepted in esports causes multiple audience members to take out their phones and photos. Michael says that, as with every sports, you need to be honest. You must talk to the market group.

15:17 – Two thirds of those surveyed by Nielsen are open to the idea of classical sports clubs entering esports – 64%. Currently, FC Schalke 04 are the most popular, a result of having more recognisable branding compared to SK Gaming, Faze Clan etc.

15:15 – Michael says a prejudice he wants to take away is the common “children who play in the basement”. He says their data shows the opposite – those who watch esports once a week are very active in sports. Is it the average age? Michael says football and running are the most popular sports for Germans, and 15% of football enthusiasts are gamers.

15:08 – Is esports for those who watch it, or game? Michael says that for the age group 29 and younger, they’ve grown up with games, but many still don’t know what esports are.  64% of the youngsters (14-29) watch esports, which is surprising. Esports recipients are largely filled with gamers – those who play games don’t necessarily watch esports, but those with an active interest in esports are also players.

15:05 – Now, Michael Heina, the head of Nielsen Esports, takes to the stage to present his company’s insights for the sports industry. To begin with, he delves into the German esports market. According to their data, esports is at 23% interest – the same level as cycling and volleyball.

14:55 – Werner points out that in esports the games are not fixed – rules change, scorekeeping changes, and this has no parallel in sports. Ian answers by saying that the amount of suspicious alerts they receive is mixed in with a lot of alerts with unreliable data. He says that esports does not exist for gambling – changing the meta, adding heroes etc. is the punter’s problem. Esports is not going to make it easy for those who want to bet. David adds it is possible to have reliable data, but that requires a more cautious approach to risk management, which does make it harder to make money.

14:53 – David Lampitt says that the feedback they’ve received from bookmakers is that this “lovely new sports area” would come running. He says some of the operators and specialist providers have found ways to make that conversion, and it will take time for larger operators to understand this. Werner follows on by saying that we can only offer bets on games with official reference on scores, stats etc. We need official records of the results, and in esports its hard to get this data from a legitimate source.

14:50 – Werner Becher, CEO of Interwetten, says that betting regulators need to work with emerging start-ups and new bookmakers.

14:46 – Esports betting naturally comes with a lot of risks. Ian Smith says there is a minimum $ 100 billion in illegal betting that has taken place in Asia, and that we do not want this in esports. He says (but does not name) there are already small leagues that exist solely for match-fixing. He says that participants need to be educated in match-fixing, while a regulated industry monitors beting markets. The latter, he says, is why his group work with Betway, Unikrn etc. to ensure that their integrity systems detect suspicious betting systems.

14:43 – David Lampitt is asked whether the extroadinary projections for the esports betting market are correct. He answers positively, and says that a simple “esports” sidebar on a website is not sufficient to tap into the market. He adds that there are companies who have led the way in offering esports betting – in the first days of The Internatinal 2017, the betting volume on GG Bet was bigger than some betting sites for the last eight months.

14:30 – The dedicated esports program begins with a discussion on esports betting, with guests including David Lampitt from Sportsradar, and Ian Smith from the ESIC.

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Esports and Football

12:10 – To finish the talk on esports and football, there will be a live FIFA 17 showmatch between Tim “Tim Latka“ Schwartmann from FC Schalke 04, and Timo “TimoX“ Siep from VfL Wolfsburg. While the players setup their game, Felix Welling, Head of Corporate Development for VfL Wolfsburg is asked about the club’s esports division.

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12:03 – Why did Schalke 04 invest longterm into esports? Alexannder says the main meesage for newcomers is: don’t look at it in an isolated way. You need to look at the synergies you have. The main task is to engage with the esports fan who are familiar with Schalke, and bring them into the larger business.

12:01 – Alexander explains how he brought in the clubs sponsors and partners into its esports space. It was a lot of trial of error, but in Alexander’s opinion, there’s no structural barriers – no FIFA or UEFA equivalent. He says it would be exciting to follow these strcutures, and what they can offer sponsors and partners. Meantime, there’s a lot that can be offered through content.

11:57 – Alexander says the lack of geographical location had a lot to do with Schalke’s relegation from the LCS. He says now the team has a better training regime, and its insitigating a scouting program – where players are brought into the stadium, and monitors to everything from how they act under pressure, to their diet and eating habits. In short, it’s staying closer to the players, who, young as they be, need to know the tradition of the club.

11:50 – If you look at Schalke’s target groups, there are 72% 18-34 year olds who enter Schalke as esport fans, compared to only 4% in 35-52 year olds.

11:48 – Alexander says traditional football clubs don’t have knowledge or experience to enter esports on their own. It is very important to bring in esports into a club’s activities in Asia – three weeeks ago, the club was in its second Chinese trip with its team, and everyone who is interested in its esports ventures has a potential interest in the club itself. As an independent club, Schalke’s departments must be as uninedepent from sport, finance etc. as possible.

11:44 – Alexander says Schalke, as an independent football club, wants to play an important role in esports. Without investors, what can the club accomplish? He says that most people in the presentation room are familiar with old football manager games on Amiga etc., but in the last few years the space has grown to include millions of people that can be reached.

11:42 – A short video plays to introduce the size of the esports market, and introduces Schalke’s own esports vertical.

11:40 – The next speaker, Alexander Jobst | Board Member for Marketing, FC Schalke 04, takes to the stage to start his presentation about the German football club’s longterm plans for making money in esports.

11: 35 – Esports’ structure is constantlly changing. Could EA learn more from football? Sascha points out that there is no transfer market currently, and while there are small efforts in scouting, he says that the digital football and the real football are not to be compared. The whole process is totally different.

11:33 – The faciliator, Domonik says that with the money behind esports, some teams could easily have an advantage over others. Sascha says that Schalke’s relegation to the Challenger Series shows that there is no master plan behind a sports club developing an esports team. There are a lot of things that could be done to make esports more professional, that are separate to football.

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11:25 – Sashca is asked if top games, like Dota 2, could ever be invested in or if its too far way. He responds by pointing out that Shakle has entered the LoL challenger series, and though these gamesh ave nothing to do with football, they are competitions. We have to differentiate between FIFA players and other esports players, as there are entirely different requirements between team games (requiring training centres, hiring costs etc.). FIFA is a nice acccess for clubs that are not 100% into esports, and is a good matching to the basic product.

11:22 – Prof. Sascha Schmidt from the Center for Sports and Management, WHU takes to the stage to talk about the oppurtunities for football clubs investing in esports. He’s asked if the concept makes sense – he says it does from a financial and audience point of view, and that every member of the Bundesliga will likely participate.

11:20 – A chart shows that LaLiga has 61 million downloads, putting it in third place behind the NFL and NBA apps.

11:18 – Daniel puts up a graphic showing the performance of the Laliga products. While the games tend to fluctuate in downloads, the games remain at a steady usage.

11:15 – Daniel says LaLiga is interested in entering esports, but that the company cannot showcase any products in that particular veritcal today.

11:05 – LaLiga’s Daniel Vincente shows a promotional video of its esports league for those unfamiliar with the Spanish football division, and describes its ecosystem.

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