State Farm Sponsors NBA 2K League

TNL Take: State Farm has been a long time sponsor of the NBA and WNBA and now they're taking it one step further with the NBA 2K League.

As an official partner of the NBA 2K League, the integration includes multiple elements including pregame segments called Game Mode that capture strategy and insights from NBA 2K League players on Twitch broadcasts throughout the season. State Farm will also have a weekly highlights segment called Game Time on; both Game Mode and Game Time will extend to League social channels. State Farm will also receive courtside signage during in-season tournaments and NBA 2K League Finals games.

“We’re enthusiastic about esports and the NBA 2K League was an exciting way to extend our working relationship with the NBA,” said Ed Gold, Advertising Director, State Farm.

State Farm is the latest company to become an official partner of the NBA 2K League along with Intel, Dell, HyperX, and Scuf Gaming. 

Now that the season is underway, it'll be interesting to see how many more league sponsors are garnered now that viewership has plateaued to about ~2,000 per game.  While viewership isn't the only critical element for these types of deals, it will be good to see an increase as the season progresses.

Adidas and K-Swiss Partner With Esports Teams

TNL Take: We've spoken about the upcoming NBA 2K League's opportunity regarding apparel/footwear and brands should take notice. Two recently announced partnerships further strengthen this avenue for merchandising and marketing.

Danish team North announced a deal with Adidas to wear their branded jerseys through the rest of 2018 during all activities. Adidas had previously signed a deal with French squad Team Vitality last year and sees them further expand in the space.

Photo: North

Photo: North

Adidas already sponsors FC Copenhagen which is associated with North along with Nordisk Film. Expect filmed content and social media activity as part of this deal as well.

Also announced on the same day was an innovative partnership between K-Swiss and Immortals. The first product for limited-released arrives in December 2018 with the K-Swiss Kompass sneaker having been redesigned with Immortals branding and colors.

Photo: Immortals x K-Swiss

Photo: Immortals x K-Swiss

Second, and the most unique part of the deal, is the development of the first-ever high-end performance gaming sneaker for esports players of all levels. K-Swiss will take the next year to work with their players from Dota 2, Arena of Valor, Clash Royale, and Super Smash Bros. to create the sneaker. Fans will be able to follow along as Immortals and K-Swiss document the entire process from beginning to end.

Through visits to Immortals’ Los Angeles-based training facility over the next few months, K-Swiss designers willconsider a professional gamer’s technical performance needs, such as the rising temperature in a shoe and movement of feet during a match. Intended to be cool, lightweight and breathable, the performance style will make its debut in early 2019.

The immersion, fan feedback and key word - engagement - all make this a great program.

As more trappings of traditional sports enters esports, it's not shocking that big apparel/athletic/streetwear brands are finally taking notice of the market. As the NBA 2K League tips off today, I still believe that the Jordan brand would be a perfect fit.

Your move now Nike and Under Armour.

TNL Esports Brand Tracker 013: KFC

ESforce has announced the start of a cooperation with KFC on launching a new season of KFC BATTLE, an international youth project, with an esports element this year.

KFC BATTLE is a large-scale sports, cultural, and educational project aimed at young people. Its previous season brought together 250,000 participants and visitors, who will be joined this year by thousands more young people from Russia and the CIS. With its diverse range of activities involved, KFC BATTLE is a project that opens paths to multifaceted personal growth in sports and creativity.

This year, competitions in various disciplines will be hosted by 27 Russian and CIS cities, including Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Support for the participants will be provided by genuine professionals in their respective fields, people who have already made the journey ahead of the young players, performing artists, and bloggers.

This year, KFC BATTLE will for the first time include a KFC Esports Championship in Dota 2, with famous player and RuHub analyst Yaroslav “NS” Kuznetsov as mentor. Commentating and analysis studio RuHub will also take charge of livestreaming the KFC Esports Championship.

The championship is open to any team from Russia and the CIS consisting of players aged 14 or over and participation in the championship is free. The qualifying stage will consist of two online qualifiers to determine the 4 strongest teams that will be invited to compete in the concluding round, the Superfinal in Moscow on July 21–22.

The winning team of the KFC Esports Championship will earn a quota in the Dota 2 finals of the 2018 Russian Esports Cup, held by the Russian Esports Federation. 

Darya Martynova, Project Leader, KFC BATTLE stated: “Our project works with trends among the young. These days, esports is a full-fledged sport with a great number of young enthusiasts around the world. Branching into esports is an important step in KFC BATTLE’s development as a project. We are faced with an interesting task: to organize an international Dota 2 Championship with a spectacular final in Moscow. We are confident that, with a major holding like ESforce as our partner, we will be able to hold a truly large-scale, professionally organized tournament”


In partnership with Esports Marketing Blog

TNL Esports Brand Tracker 012: Lionsgate

Global content leader Lionsgate announced a partnership with the Los Angeles Valiant of Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League to promote season three of the Starz Original Series Ash vs Evil Dead.

The partnership, which will see Ash vs Evil Dead become the Valiant’s sole and exclusive jersey sponsor through at least Stage 2 of the inaugural season of Overwatch League.

Ari Segal, LA Valiant’s President and COO said, “Ash vs Evil Dead is a content property that is highly contextual to gaming and to our core demo and fan base. By creating truly unique, money-can’t-buy experiences for our fans around that property, we elevate the fan experience to something that aims at more than merely being a fan of a team; instead, we’re building a real community of people that activates around not only the Valiant, but also other properties or events from which it derives value and enjoyment.”

Peter Levin, the LA Valiant’s Chairman and Lionsgate’s President of Interactive Ventures, Games, and Digital Strategy, continued, “The Valiant’s audience, the audience for Overwatch League and esports generally, is one of the most elusive and yet highly sought after demographics. At both Lionsgate and the LA Valiant, we continue to think three dimensionally about how to reach and authentically connect with that constituency.”

As part of the sponsorship, Valiant fans will be given unprecedented access to Ash vs Evil Dead experiences, including exclusive screenings at Lionsgate’s studios in Santa Monica, Q&A/AMAs with creative voices behind the franchise, meet-and-greets, and more.


LA Valiant CEO Noah Whinston added, “This jersey sponsorship is a message to our fans that we will continue to work with partners and brands that look to add value to the fan experience. Lionsgate is completely aligned with us on this philosophy, as evidenced by this landmark partnership, and we will continue to create and integrate brands, events, and content to push the frontier of how teams create differentiated and lasting connections.

The new Ash vs Evil Dead-sponsored jerseys debuted in competition during the first week of Overwatch League’s Stage 2.  The third season of Ash vs Evil Dead will premiered Sunday, February 25, 2018, on Starz.

[Edit: The premiere reached 220,000 viewers and a slight drop from last year which can most likely be attributed to going head-to-head against The Walking Dead. 

The second episode dropped further with 171,000 viewers and shows the challenges of going up against the #1 cable rated show for the day. For perspective, The Walking Dead reached over 6 million viewers]

Content partnership with Esports Marketing Blog