How much are eSports rights worth? Sports media rights company, MP & Silva has been named the global marketing rights partner of Garena, Southeast Asia’s (SEA) largest Internet companies and owner of the broadcast rights to League of Legends (LoL) for the region. The partnership is MP & Silva’s first venture into the eSports scene.
Under the agreement, they will work closely with Garena to help commercialize its eSports properties, which include:
Garena Premier League
The leading professional LoL tournament in Southeast Asia, and home to top teams in the region from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The GPL registered 140,000 concurrent viewers in 2015.
League of Legends Masters Series (LMS)
The pro LoL league in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
Vietnam Championship Series A (VCSA)
Vietnam’s highest professional LoL tournament
This deal, the first of its kind, marks the birth of the eSports rights market. However, it brings the question of value into focus. Namely, how much are the rights (broadcast, marketing, etc.) for eSports properties, like Garena’s, actually worth? Unfortunately, MP & Silva did not disclose the sum of the transaction. Still, there are several key factors which affect the maximum value of this particular deal.
Firstly, there are questions about the long-term viability of eSports in SEA. Aside from Taiwan, professional gaming hasn’t taken hold as an economic outlet. Whereas larger Asian economies, such as China and Korea, can actually sustain a lot of full-time professional video gamers, this isn’t the case in SEA. A reality which reduces the size of player & talent pools. Accordingly, there are also instabilities in audience sizes and sponsor interest; limiting the range of MP & Silva’s brokering.
Furthermore, the Garena ecosystem needs strengthening. In addition to owning three professional leagues, Garena is the LoL provider for the entire SEA region. Meaning all LoL players, professional and otherwise, use Garena servers to access LoL. This is important since this player base is the source of talent for pro teams, and has been vocal about the company’s poor record in customer service and community management practices holding the region back from developing top-tier talent. Unfortunately for Garena, less talent results in a lower quality of eSport product, and ultimately reduces the value of its properties.
Lastly, potential for growth in SEA is not matched by infrastructure. Research firm Newzoo tags the number of gamers in the region at 126 million, out of a total population of 626 million. While Singapore’s broadband speed doubled in 2015, the majority of the region is still plagued with issues of affordability, remote connectivity, and unreliable speeds. This could change, but in the meantime it will severely limit accessibility to online gaming and streaming; a huge blow to the growth prospects for competitive gaming in the region.
- Eduselling & eSports Sponsorships – youtube.com
- The Power of Place and the eSports Arena Revolution – medium.com
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Image source: eslgaming.com, Photographer: Helena Kristiannson