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

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 038: Buffalo Wild Wings and E LEAGUE


Wings and Chill at Buffalo Wild Wings (Photo: Buffalo Wild Wings)

TNL Take:  This time a different take: a Brand overview after they’ve invested in eSports.

For those not following eSports closely, there’s been some chatter on Reddit about fans having bad experiences at Buffalo Wild Wings locations trying to watch E LEAGUE there as BWW is one of the main Brand sponsors.

Vice did a fantastic overview of it and I want to take it further.

I haven’t spoken with anyone at Buffalo Wild Wings or those involved with the deal. From someone who carefully watches the Brand activations in the space, it’s very surprising.

Bdubs, as the kids call it, gave its stamp of approval on the largest eSports stage in the US to date. The fans — never forget the fans — that have built this industry over many, many years celebrated the partnership.

Read any of the positive comments about those that watched Week 1 in bars and it’s summed up like this


“Wow. I can’t believe I’m watching Counter-Strike next to other Sports in a bar. I’m going to cry”.


See that emotion? 

Even though communication about the sponsorship was made it seemed to have gotten lost in the mix — Vice’s unofficial survey of 12 stores in Arizona produced only 1 location that was aware of E LEAGUE.

I think the complaints are valid and I did some digging myself and found this:

Buffalo Wild Wing's Euro 2016 Promotion (Photo: Buffalo Wild Wings)

That’s the first thing you see when you go to their website — a huge promotion around Euro 2016. We can discuss/argue the average American’s view of European soccer but let’s use data over emotions.

E LEAGUE vs. EURO 2016 TV Ratings (Photo: The Next Level)

In an awesome coincidence, the first Game of Euro 2016 was on the same day as E LEAGUE's Week 3. Yes the Euro did perform better but it was on in the afternoon and not running till 2am and against the NBA Finals like E LEAGUE did.

That’s pretty impressive.

OK fine it’s not on the Home Page but surely under the Sports tab?

Buffalo Wild Wings Website (Photo: Buffalo Wild Wings)

Not there either.

In fact, I couldn’t find a mention of E LEAGUE anywhere on the website. So I Google’d “Buffalo Wild Wings E LEAGUE”.

Buffalo Wild Wings and E LEAGUE Google Results (Photo: Google)

Buffalo Wild Wings and E LEAGUE Google Results (Photo: Google)

The power of Reddit and bad press.

This is a huge missed opportunity for the audience that lives their lives digitally.

BWW spent $44M in 2009 and $60M in 2011 in Measured Media. Assuming a similar growth rate, I’m estimating their current budget at ~$100M. 

So spending $2M for E LEAGUE is relatively small.

I still believe in the power of this promotion and Buffalo Wild Wings will hopefully turn it around. It’s not even halfway through E LEAGUE and plenty of time to make this right.

Let’s try a social experiment:

If you want to support BWW and E LEAGUE but feel some changes are needed, let them know on Twitter here → @BWWings

Updated June 30 2016

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Buffalo Wild Wing’s sponsorship of E LEAGUE.

Buffalo Wild Wings had never spent in the Gaming space before — let alone eSports — and this was a pretty big first step. Even the fans were excited to hear that not only was one of their favorite brands sponsoring eSports but they could actually see their favorite teams play on TV next to traditional sports — at a Buffalo Wild Wings.

While all of that sounded great, the execution unfortunately wasn’t there. Outside of the challenges with communication, the biggest issue for me was the deafening silence of the promotion in general. 

It just felt like a really big missed opportunity on the part of Buffalo Wild Wings to plant a stake in eSports. Then a few days ago I saw this on Reddit:

Buffalo Wild Wings E LEAGUE Promotion (Photo: Reddit)

Ok pretty cool. Great branding, fits both E LEAGUE and BWW as a destination and info for the fans. 

I then checked the website under their Sports listings again.

Buffalo Wild Wings E LEAGUE Website Promotion (Photo: Buffalo Wild Wings)


If you look closely this part is key:


“Stop in and ask your server to turn on the Finals”


Not only did they address the overall promotion, and broadcast the schedule for fans — they basically said “Please tell us to put E LEAGUE on”. 

Just. Like. Every. Other. Sport.

Buffalo Wild Wings. Here’s to you for listening to your audience #BWWListened

Thanks Buffalo Wild Wings! (GIF: Giphy)

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 035: Hot Pockets and Nadeshot


TNL eSports Brand Tracker 033: Hot Pockets (Photo: @XPBoomer)

TNL Take: In 2011, Matt Haag was 19 years old and working at McDonald's.

By 2015, Matt "Nadeshot" Haag was 22 years old making $1M a year from eSports, playing Call of Duty for top team OpTiC Gaming and had a feature story on the NY Times cover.

Nadeshot NY Times (Photo: NY Times)

Hi Mom, I made it.

While Nadeshot retired from eSports at the ripe age of 23 last year, he's moved onto using his Brand he built up with Call of Duty to expand into content creation across multiple games and platforms.

There wasn't any press around this and looks like a straight up Sponsorship/Commercial deal.

The commercial also features another YouTube Gamer Goldglove as well as the Komodo Food Truck.

For what it's worth, that video is the most viewed on Hot Pocket's YouTube channel by a margin of 1M views.

Hot Pockets and Nadeshot (GIF: Reddit)

Hot Pockets and Nadeshot (GIF: Reddit)