The gaming and streaming businesses are increasingly seeing their worlds collide as companies such as Super League Gaming strive to increase engagement and attract advertising dollars. During a recent Public Live audio show, Ann Hand, the CEO of Super League Gaming, a gaming community and content platform, speaks with business journalist Nora Ali about the company’s growth and the emergence of gambling on eSports. Here is an excerpt of their discussion.
Nora Ali: What is driving growth for your company?
Ann Hand: The ad model is at the core of our company and it is our primary source of revenue. We embed high CPM (cost per impressions) ad units into the game and streams... so it cannot be ad-blocked out. This makes our ad space... more valuable than TV commercials. We can give advertisers a direct line to our growing, valuable market. It’s about building heft and scale. We have also started direct-to-consumer monetization through games we own. We introduce microtransaction marketplaces. Finally,we aggregate games and streamers and extract their content. There’s a big library there, and we’re figuring out who’s interested in that content. Maybe there’s a Super League app or a DirecTV channel. We have evidence that we can monetize this derivative content. We even have a partnership with Snapchat... delivering six to eight episodes per week, and we generate ad revenue from that.
NA: How do you see game developers creating a more social environment within their games?
AH: Our Minehut is a place where passionate Minecraft players are creating their own private servers inside the game. Then, they can invite their friends and hang out in a common lobby together. It’s a different way to experience Minecraft. We even introduce music acts into our experiences. We do experiences with pro sports athletes, and they like to engage with their fanbases. Gaming is at the heart of pop culture, and you’ll see more of that in the future.
NA: How do you ensure that gaming and eSports are accessible to mainstream audiences while giving the features that hardcore audiences desire?
AH: We always look at the inclusive mass-participation play. When you look at ESPN, it is the aspirational, elite play. The challenge is that the viewer has to be a player of that game. It’s hard to get excited about Overwatch if you’ve never played. We want to be about the masses and recognize that each top-tier game has its own unique community. We work with 20, 30 of the top titles in different genres, ages, and skill levels. There’s a home for everybody.
NA: What is the future of betting on eSports?
AH: Just like your March Madness bracket, you don’t have to play that sport to be interested in it. Betting will be an entry point into a lot of these titles. Because gaming is at the core of people’s identities, it will be interesting to see how wagering between players could get interesting. You could be watching an NBA2K match, and LeBron could be playing against a random kid, and the kid could win. This can make wagering more dynamic, as gaming levels the playing field.
NA: Does Super League plan to launch an eSports betting product?
AH: For now, no. We are looking to partner with companies moving into that space. We have a lot of under 18 gamers, so we need to create safe gaming environments for them. Ads and pro leagues want to reach our young gamers... they’re the future, and we need to protect them. There could be appropriate places for our core 18 to 34 gamers where we could partner with betting platforms.
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