Riot Games has tapped Nielsen to measure League of Legends esports competition so sponsors know the impact of their advertising dollars. The deal is important to helping esports generate the same kind of big advertising revenues as traditional sports. This is a path for esports to live up to the hype for generating revenue.
Nielsen will handle comprehensive sponsorship valuation measurement across the Riot’s multiple esports leagues and competitions around the world. The move will help Riot Games demonstrate the monetary value of exposure provided to brands currently activating or considering association with its League of Legends events. The research also will support brands in achieving the greatest return on investment through Riot Games.
As part of the agreement, Riot Games will provide access to its aggregated streaming viewership data to support Nielsen’s independent brand exposure measurement. This includes the new Pro View experience that helps fans follow individual players during League of Legends competitions. Metrics will be incorporated into the industry-leading Nielsen Esport24 syndicated sponsorship valuation product.
Brand involvement in esports is growing as marketers look to connect with this hard-to-reach, tech-savvy segment of young adults who utilize online ad blockers and are less likely to watch television. According to recent Nielsen research, one in five fans globally began following esports in the past year, and nearly 60% of U.S. esports viewers on Twitch say they don’t watch television on a weekly basis.
“As esports continues to gain momentum with brand marketers and advertisers, the need for independent, third-party verification of audiences and brand exposure is critical,” said Nicole Pike, managing director at Nielsen Esports, in a statement. “With this agreement, we have the opportunity to help monetize Riot Games’ platform and validate this growing market.”
League of Legends Esports is a premier global sport that attracts the attention of millions of fans around the world through 13 regional leagues which consist of over 800 professional players and 100 professional teams.
Each regional league comprises approximately 10 teams that compete year-round against one another over the course of two seasonal splits. The sport is globally integrated through three international events: the World Championship, the Mid-Season Invitational, and the All-Star Event.
Nielsen will measure brand exposure throughout 2019 and 2020 including the North America League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), League of Legends European Championship (LEC), the League of Legends three international events, and select regional leagues in Asia.
“Trust and transparency are vital components of building and maintaining relationships with brand partners,” said Doug Watson, head of esports insights at Riot Games, in a statement. “As major companies invest in our tournaments, we want to help them see the value of their exposure and identify how best to engage with our passionate fan base.”
During the past 12 months, League of Legends Esports has signed on multiple prominent partners which include Mastercard, Dell/Alienware, State Farm, and Nike. Additionally, Riot Games has launched multiple premium products including Pro View, Team Pass, and Fan Pass, which supplement the viewing experience on watch.lolesports.com — the viewing portal developed by Riot Games specifically for League of Legends Esports.
Riot Games is a member of the Nielsen Esports Advisory Board and has been actively leading efforts to standardize metrics for esports viewership and sponsorship valuation.
The League of Legends World Championships in 2018 saw an average minute audience of 19.6 million during the finals.