Insights from our Game Changers report

In the same way that Gen Xers elevated extreme sports in the 1990s and fueled the launch of the X Games, younger Gen Ys and Zs are driving the growth of eSports. This competitive video gaming category, in which players go head-to-head while an audience watches, is poised to become the next big sports genre among youth, and major brands are starting to adjust their marketing budgets accordingly.


Red Bull has been a long-time sponsor of eSports players, and last year it created the Red Bull Performance eSports Lab to help players measure and improve their skills. Located in Santa Monica, the lab is open to pros and amateurs alike and offers equipment to track eye movement, brain states, facial patterns, heart rate, galvanic skin responses, and team communication. The lab even measures players’ sleep, nutrition, and physical regiments. With this wealth of data, players can target any number of ways to improve their game.


Bud Light got in on the game by creating a team of eSports All-Stars. The brand identified a roster of top players, and those who received the most votes from fans were selected as part of the all-star lineup. As part of the program, each player hosted Twitch streams throughout the season, participated in competitions, and appeared in a behind-the-scenes series broadcast on Machinima.


Involved in eSports for several years, Coca-Cola decided to create its own competition, the eCOPA. Featuring the game FIFA17, the event included six weeks of online qualifiers with more than 300 players participating. The winner received a $5,000 college scholarship and a berth in the FIFA17 Ultimate Team Regional Finals. Scholarships in the category are poised to rise, with the University of Utah recently announcing that it would sponsor students in competitive video gaming.