Esports Takes the Stage in North Hall

LAS VEGAS—With the growth of esports creating opportunities for broadcasters and the wider media industry, the 2019 NAB Show featured the debut of the “Esports Experience” in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s North Hall, as the once-emerging form of content is becoming more mainstream, requiring higher levels of production and distribution.

The Esports Experience pavilion in the North Hall hosted a Fortnite competition during the NAB Show.

The Esports Experience pavilion in the North Hall hosted a Fortnite competition during the NAB Show.

“The increasing popularity of esports is attracting attention and investment from traditional and new media alike,” said Ann Marie Cumming, senior vice president of communications. “By all indications, NAB Show’s attendee base is very interested in the developments related to this exciting medium.”

Topics up for discussion included brand integrations; implications of 5G; live events that are held in venues such as the 30,000-square-foot, multilevel HyperX Esports Arena, at the Luxor on the Las Vegas Strip; collegiate and amateur esports; broadcast infrastructure; convergence of esports and TV; storytelling and Hollywood IP; and game development.

Anzu, another company that’s keened in on the esports market, exhibited at the Sprockit Hub, also in North Hall, which featured startups. The company, based in Berlin, has developed a new in-game advertising ecosystem that crosses digital game worlds, where ads are blended directly into the setting.

Anzu gives advertisers “another way to promote products to the unicorn [or premium] audiences they could never reach before―on PC, console, mobile and in the esports space, during actual game competitions,” said Natalia Vasilyeva, vice president of marketing. “So advertisers can now advertise in-game and engage the players without disrupting their user experience.”

One advantages of Anzu is that the creative can be updated dynamically. “The platform offers advanced targeting and personalization capabilities, and ads can even be based on an event that occurs during the game session,” said Vasilyeva. “From the game developer’s angle, they can integrate the technology into the game, take control over ad placements and add as many ad spaces as they want, which leads to greater monetization opportunities.”

Anzu acts as a middleman between the game developers and advertisers. “After the integration of Anzu, we start selling ad spaces to brand advertisers and advertising agencies, matching their preferences with the right game audiences via Anzu’s private marketplace; and also programmatically, using the real-time bidding technology (RTB),” she said. “We’ve brought interactivity, brand safety and RTB to the in-game world at scale and have already partnered with a number of big game studios and brand name advertisers.”

As for the Esports Experience, it “was a success by all measures with well-attended sessions and lots of activity and excitement surrounding the live gaming component, in which attendees could observe professional teams and also have the opportunity to play themselves,” said Cumming. “It was a popular destination for attendees, and the sponsors appreciated the exposure it provided.”

On that note, she said to look for the Esports Experience next year, “perhaps with an even larger footprint.”

Find out what other sports-related technologies were on display at the 2019 NAB Show here.

Mark R. Smith

Mark R. Smith has covered the media industry for a variety of industry publications, with his articles for TV Technology often focusing on sports. He’s written numerous stories about all of the major U.S. sports leagues.  

Based in the Baltimore-Washington area, the byline of Smith, who has also served as the long-time editor-in-chief for The Business Monthly, Columbia, Md., initially appeared in TV Technology and in another Futurenet publication, Mix, in the late ’90s. His work has also appeared in numerous other publications.