With more traditional professional athletes playing video games, opportunities are ample for companies to capitalize on the trend.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart recently revealed a new partnership with gaming headset and audio accessory brand Turtle Beach.As Hart’s official audio partner, Turtle Beach will outfit him with the brand’s latest gear, with Hart endorsing the brand and consulting on future products. Hart, an avid gamer when not on the court, worked with his management company, Roc Nation Sports, to reach out to Turtle Beach about the idea of working together.
“We strive to align ourselves with partners who share our passion for gaming, and we’re impressed with everything Josh represents both as a pro athlete and as a gamer,” Turtle Beach CEO Juergen Stark said.
To kick off the partnership, Turtle Beach renovated a room in Hart’s home, creating his own personal gaming paradise complete with multiple gaming systems and a variety of high-end gear, plus an assortment of the latest Turtle Beach equipment, and signed jerseys of some of Hart’s favorite professional athletes.
Set up for Josh’s love of gaming, Turtle Beach also made sure Hart can use the room for reviewing his own game footage, watching TV and movies, and listening to music.
In the past, most of Turtle Beach’s partnerships were licensing deals with companies such as Activision, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. However, the past few years the company’s partnerships strategy has shifted to focus on top pro esports teams and players, such as OpTic Gaming, Astralis, Splyce and the Houston Outlaws.The shift also includes content creators and influencers, including DrDisRespect, Siefe and Ali-A.
Working with Hart, a budding NBA star, is a newer endeavor for Turtle Beach, and additional athlete partnerships could be in store in the future — so long as it’s a great fit for both sides.
“When you look at partnerships like this, obviously the most important part is that Josh is actually a core gamer and will use our gear accordingly, and not just for gaming but for audio in general,” said MacLean Marshall, Turtle Beach’s senior director of brand and communications. “However, beyond just using Turtle Beach headsets, we’ll look to Josh for his input as we develop future products, and will work with him to create more content that celebrates our mutual passion for gaming and the benefit of having great audio.”Marshall mentions Hart specifically as an ambassador of gaming to the NBA, for obvious reasons, but knows there are plenty of others with the potential to provide a new entry point to fans into the world of gaming. Likewise, it provides a bridge from gaming fans to the NBA.
“When I started in the industry years ago, traditional pro athletes weren’t really gaming,” Marshall said. “Maybe there were a few here or there, but traditional athletes were mostly just traditional athletes because gaming was more niche and not as mainstream as it is today.
“We’re now at the point where there’s a variety of younger pro athletes who grew up playing games, who still play games in their spare time, and it’s great to see it as another equally exciting passion for them, and to see the crossover between our respective audiences and fans.”
Hart joined the Turtle Beach team at a busy time of the year, with the company amidst launching its new lineup of gaming headsets while gearing up for the holiday season.
That, along with all the usual intricacies of managing and maintaining a great partnership, Marshall isn’t sure if and when Turtle Beach might add another professional athlete partner, but it certainly isn’t out of the question.“We’ve been cognizant — not just with Josh Hart, but all our partnerships in general — to make sure they’re focused on the right thing,” Marshall said. “For example, this partnership isn’t about us, or even about Josh as an NBA star. Rather, it’s about Josh Hart the avid gamer.
“So, sure, we could go after more [pro athletes], but there’s quite a bit of effort and energy that goes into partnerships like this, and it’s more important to us to deliver on our part with Josh, as opposed to bringing on others and potentially overstretching our bandwidth. This is about quality, not quantity, and we’re excited to do more with Josh in the future.”