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Practice, Perseverance, and Madden: The Professional Journey of NFL Network’s Scott Cole

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This interview is presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration

By: Joe Londergan, @joehio_

Scott Cole, ESPN broadcaster & CBS Radio Host

At the risk of stating the obvious, the world of sports and sports broadcasting is a vastly different place than just a couple of decades ago. This is in part due to the rise of new internet broadcasting platforms, ESPN3 perhaps being the most prominent, and the esports scene growing into a now billion dollar industry. Scott Cole is considered a pioneer of esports broadcasting, as well as a seasoned veteran of traditional sports broadcasting with 18 years of experience.

Currently, Scott hosts Madden NFL Live on the NFL Network, regularly broadcasts college sports on the ESPN family of networks, and hosts The Scott Cole Show where he and co-host Ryan Alford discuss Scott’s beloved Clemson Tigers, among other sport topics, with a variety of guests. Before this, however, he was a student of John Brown University’s budding digital media program in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

“I was all lined up to go to a Clemson or a Furman University and study computer science or something crazy like that, but John Brown was one of the first schools to have a digital media program. So in 1997, people had never even heard of this interactive digital media world. I pretty much found out that I could get a degree in digital media and broadcasting because there was so many crossovers between the two. It was a unique opportunity because the school had a 100,000 watt radio station on campus too. It was a very hands on university and that’s the reason I chose it. I got to go there and broadcast sports and essentially be the voice of all the JBU sports teams for all four years. It just felt like it was four years of working and gaining experience and not just learning from books and dissecting Paul Harvey or Vin Scully.”

After calling over 200 sporting events as a college student, Scott was hired by the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars in graphic production. Here, he continued to pursue broadcasting by filling in on radio broadcasts when possible and networking with industry figures.

“It’s funny that Mark Cuban was the one writing my checks at the time, but internet broadcasting had still not really caught on. So I had to put it on the shelf as I realized, while I was driving Al Michaels and all these people around during the Stanley Cup playoffs, that I was a long way away from the opportunity that these guys have. So I sort of put broadcasting as a hobby and went into the advertising world, which is where the digital media degree came in.”

While waiting for the right opportunity to pursue his true passion for broadcasting, Scott worked in creative advertising for brands like American Airlines, Fossil, and Match.com. It was during this time that he became a highly involved member of the esports community and further stretched his broadcasting muscles. For those unfamiliar, Cyber Professional League, which has been described as the Mecca of the esports world, takes place in Dallas every year. At this event, and many like it, Scott provided commentary for the highest levels of video game competition.

“This was before video. What we would do is called “Shoutcasting” where we do play by play and color, just like you would over radio, but it was going out over the internet as an audio file. But in 2008, there was a sort of esports bust. It got big, people were putting a lot of money into it, but there wasn’t any infrastructure in place to handle player salaries and broadcast rights. So once again I go back to the advertising world, even though I traveled the world from Germany to Korea covering esports from the mid to late 2000’s.”

“To go from being on the internet in your bedroom to being on a million dollar platform in a million dollar studio and spending your Thursday nights watching football with Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Michael Irvin and Coach Mariucci, and then me: some random guy hanging out with Hall of Famers, it’s just kind of surreal.”

— Scott Cole

In 2014, however, Scott’s luck changed upon his introduction to the gaming live broadcasting platform Twitch.tv, which had recently been purchased by Amazon for $970 million.

“A former colleague, who is the director of broadcasting for Twitch, got me into Twitch and I didn’t even know what it was at the time. It is no different than starting your own internet radio station or video podcast except it’s live streaming.”

Scott quickly established a strong presence on Twitch providing gameplay and commentary for EA Sports’ Madden NFL games, among other titles. He eventually became a paid partner for Twitch and his talent and charisma caught the attention of EA Sports and the NFL.

“As esports started becoming more popular, they were looking for professionals. So out of nowhere, Twitch, EA Sports, and the NFL got together on a project called Madden NFL Live. Because I had met those Twitch guys two years earlier in New York, who had recognized my work doing college sports on ESPN3, and because of my work as a partner for Twitch, they decided to give me an audition. So I went on that audition and the second audition and somehow got the job. I just told my dad that I was going to see the studio, maybe meet Rich Eisen and Michael Irvin, and say it was a cool trip.”

“Twenty something episodes later, the show has nearly half a million viewers on a Saturday and it is the number one weekend show on the network and hopefully it is coming back for season two. To go from being on the internet in your bedroom to being on a million dollar platform in a million dollar studio and spending your Thursday nights watching football with Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Michael Irvin and Coach Mariucci, and then me: some random guy hanging out with Hall of Famers, it’s just kind of surreal.”

This opportunity prompted Scott to leave the advertising world and pursue broadcasting full time.

“Up until last October, I’ve always had a day job. When I got the national television job with NFL network, that is what pushed me to make the jump and try to make a run at my dreams. I’ve started now filling in on radio shows and hopefully I’ll have my own show launching this summer that reaches the Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina, area and parts of Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. It’s not work to me. A three to four hour show feels like five minutes. I’m sure you get worn down over time, but some people were made to talk.”

Scott’s presence on Madden NFL live, along with his active presence on gaming platforms like Twitch and XBOX Live, have provided him with unique networking opportunities with prominent figures of the football world, such as Cam Newton and Maurice Jones-Drew.

“With these athletes, if you call their agents, you are probably going to get the run around. But since I have a commonality of being a sort of gaming celebrity, especially in sports games, I can see Cam Newton and say ‘Cam, let’s play a game of Madden some time.’”

This has also taught him some of the finer points of relationship building. One of the most recent guests on Scott’s podcast was former Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers running back Ahman Green. Scott and Ahman’s friendship was mostly grown over interactions on XBOX Live.

“He came on the first episode of Madden NFL Live and we talked about playing games together, and now we’re doing projects together. I’m helping out with his charity, and he came on my radio show. Agencies want to know what the situation is with money but building relationships is what these players are doing. People think they’re going to clubs and all that, but these guys are actually going home and playing FIFA, Madden, NBA 2K and Call of Duty. They just want to be regular people. That’s what I’ve found out meeting guys like Joe Montana or Herschel Walker. They just want to be people. They’ve had people worship them long enough. When it comes to the younger generation of players, they just want to find some buddies to game with who don’t want anything in return.”

Gaming and esports have provided for many, like Scott, the opportunity to pursue their dreams. However, some traditional sports media figures, such as Colin Cowherd, have been adamant in their dismissiveness towards esports’ legitimacy.

“Everyone is susceptible to change. For example, when NASCAR got popular, people were questioning whether those guys were really athletes when the car is doing a lot of the work. In some sort of way, the computer is doing some of the work in esports. I think they realize, and even Colin Cowherd has come back to admit, that these guys have amazing reflexes and the way their brains work… it’s fatiguing. You have to be in shape. You even have teams now that are going to IMG Academy in Florida to train (for esports). They’re mixing in cardio and physical activities and brain testing, working on their reflexes. I’ll admit it isn’t football and no one is going to hit you, but any time you’re doing something professional for money, you have to be in shape for it. For most people it is just ignorance, the uneducated about what is really happening. It’s hard for people to understand what’s going on, but for a lot of teens and twenty somethings, that’s their world.”

Because of esports’ massive popularity amongst younger demographics, Twitch has the potential to be a training ground for the next generation of broadcasters in many facets of entertainment. Scott can personally speak to its effectiveness.

“It’s great practice for being live on camera. There’s no other feeling like that. There is no start over, there is no hold ups. There’s no take two. It is a live platform. Whether you are trying to get into radio or TV, having that pressure of having your brain think about what you are going to say because it is out there forever is good. As far as sports goes, I think play-by-play for a game like Rocket League or play-by-play for college soccer is pretty close. Having any ability to describe something live is a great platform, especially for someone that’s younger. The funny thing is a lot of times, when I’m broadcasting, let’s say on the SoCon digital network, it’s about a tenth of my viewership than if I was playing on Twitch. So sometimes Twitch is a larger platform, but for some reason broadcasting college baseball seems more legit than broadcasting MLB The Show on Twitch, even though 500–1,000 people might be watching concurrently on Twitch, maybe 10,000 people pass through in an hour.”

“A college baseball game on the SoCon Digital Network, if you go over a couple hundred people that feels like a pretty big deal. It’s just that stigma you talk about like ‘this isn’t real’ or ‘video games aren’t real’ or ‘esports isn’t real’ or ‘real broadcasting’, but I think there’s so much money involved that it will be. Now these shows, like the one I do, are hitting national television and there’s now Counter Strike on TBS. They’re playing for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. People are going to expect better production not only from the quality of the production but from the quality of the broadcasting.”

“The difference between esports and college football or baseball is there is a precedent with college sports, like Brad Nesler or Kirk Herbstreit for example. There are guys who are household names. There isn’t that in esports so when people tune in to listen, who may not be familiar with it, they have nothing from their past to be able to base it off of because it is so new and so foreign to them.”

With his love of gaming and sports appealing to audiences that may not always intertwine, Scott has struck a balance with his public presence between being authentic and professional.

“The easiest thing to do is be you. It’s hard work to be something you’re not, and I’m just too lazy. Somebody calls in and wants to talk about the Kentucky Derby and I’m like ‘I appreciate it, but I don’t know anything about it.’ But if someone called in and wanted to talk about the ’85 Bears and how they compare to last year’s Broncos’ defense, I can talk about that passionately for an hour. I think if you’re true to you, you build an audience that has an affinity for the topics that you like to talk about around you.”

“It’s been tough, I’ll be honest. With my social media, this is probably the first year where I’m going all in on sports and sort of leaving a little bit of the esports behind because you have to find your lane and stay in it. When you’re all over the place, people don’t know what to do. At one point I’m like ‘Yeah! Clemson is ranked again in Baseball!’ and the next moment, I’m like ‘I can’t believe there’s a new Halo coming out.’ People are just like ‘who is this guy?’ Some of those are just lessons learned.”

While hard work, perseverance, and passion have lifted Cole to the level of success and status that he enjoys today, he acknowledges that his journey as a broadcaster has been an unconventional one.

“I sort of do feel like I skipped a step, going from my bedroom to national television. Where was my small local broadcast? Where was my local sports show that lead to the NFL network? It was just all of a sudden because it’s niche programming. It’s not another show with three guys in suits; it sort of skipped over all of that. I think for a lot of the veteran broadcasters, they don’t understand it. They ask ‘how do you have 100,000 followers?’ And I said I gained 30,000 in one episode on national TV. That’s the difference of having the NFL retweeting you and being verified on Twitter overnight compared to being some local guy. I felt like now I got to go back and find my roots and find what my broadcasting baseline is. One night I’ll be broadcasting women’s soccer to 50 people, then the next I’m on national TV to 500,000. But it still feels the same to me and that lets me know that it’s my right profession.”

When building your own path to broadcasting success, saying yes to everything is undeniably essential. Mr. Scott Cole is living proof of this.

“Even if you’re doing a local radio show at two in the morning, don’t turn down any opportunity. Even if that means you might have to miss something that you want to do. The one time you say no might be the last time they ask you. It’s such a select group of people and so many people want to do it, there’s going to be someone that says yes. Where you had your own seat, all of a sudden you’ve lost it. It’s that competitive. Broadcast anything you can. 100 people watching me on Twitch turned into a national TV job.”

Follow Scott on Twitter here.

Connect with Scott on LinkedIn here.

This interview was presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration


Esports

Riot Games Wants Non-Endemic Brands That Buy Into Creative Approach

Despite League of Legends’ rapid growth, Riot Games waited to push for non-endemic brands. Now, the brand is bringing in partners in unique ways.

Jeff Eisenband

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Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Riot Games held the first League of Legends World Championship in 2011. Instagram was eight months old. Twitch debuted that month.

The event brought in 1.69 million unique viewers. The winning team earned $50,000.

In the eight years since, League of Legends has ballooned as a competitive esport. The 2018 World Championship was watched by 74.3 million viewers. The winning team’s prize: $2.42 million.

With rapid growth comes fertile sponsorship opportunities. Naz Aletaha, Head of LoL Partnerships at Riot Games, is behind that operation. In her tenure at Riot Games – which started in 2012 before a promotion to her current role in 2013 – Aletaha has taken time to introduce the product to non-endemic brands. Now, her team is bringing on these brands with unique sponsorship opportunities.

“The priority for us was building out a global sport to service the very global audience that we have,” she remembered of the early days, centralizing LoL’s esports product. “It was about building up our capabilities as a sports operator, a broadcaster, a live event producer, a governing body.”

The narrative changed in 2016. That year, Riot Games hosted its World Championship in the United States, and sold out Madison Square Garden and Staples Center for the LCS semifinals and finals.

“We were able to look at the groundwork we had laid and the infrastructure that we had built,” Aletaha recalled. “We had an ecosystem that was really robust and primed for partners, where we can actually offer to come in at the regional level, national level, global level, event level and team level.”

Global esports such as League of Legends have glaring business differences than traditional North American sports leagues. While traditional sports leagues sell their broadcast rights to TV platforms, Riot Games holds on to LoL broadcast rights.

LoL has separate leagues by countries and regions. Aletaha and her team can pitch sponsors with domestic and international layers, becoming a chameleon market-to-market.

“If you go look at China, you see Nike is sponsoring the LPL (top Chinese league),” Aletaha said. “In Europe, you have Kia. In Brazil, Gillette.”

The way these brands present themselves depends on the region. In an ever-changing field, mode of consumption is not static.

“In the U.S., we’re not on linear,” she notes – NA LCS, LoL’s top North American league is broadcast on Twitch, YouTube and ESPN+ in the U.S., with ESPN+ coming after a fallout with BAMTech. “We are in some other markets where that’s how viewers consume esports. I think linear is interesting to date in the U.S. We haven’t seen that it has been necessary because our fans are so digital first. Digital platforms offer the engagement factor. You’re no longer just sitting at home on the couch by yourself with the remote control. You are engaging with like-minded people and that’s fun and exciting in a different way.”

In terms of the actual ticketing strategy, Aletaha said Riot Games keeps prices low to appeal to young fans who have less disposable income than an average fan of traditional sports. For decades, sports revenue has been about TV rights and ticket sales. While expanding in those two categories may come in the long run, Aletaha and her team would rather control and build for the time being – that is what they pitch sponsors.

READ MORE: Esports Fashion Levels Up as Esports Continue into Mainstream

At the start of the 2018 season, State Farm became a major non-endemic sponsor for NA LCS.  This May, the brand announced an extension through 2021, which includes the brand becoming the presenting sponsor of the League of Legends College Championship.

Meanwhile, Mastercard became the first LoL esports global partner last September, signing on as the exclusive payment services partner for League of Legends Global Events.

“It took us over two years to explore and educate ourselves on the esports industry to determine the best path that would enable us to connect with this passionate community in an authentic way and early on, it became very evident that partnering with League of Legends was the biggest and best opportunity to do this,” said Emily Neenan, Mastercard vice president of global consumer marketing & sponsorships.

“What really stood out to us was Riot’s community-first approach, leadership and scale, which helps to create opportunities to connect with our cardholders in new ways,” Neenan said.

However, there is some concern in the esports industry as to how long Riot Games has taken to attract major non-endemic sponsors. In such a fast-moving world, LoL’s rise is not as fresh as it once was.

“They should be the top of the expectations list,” said esports consultant and journalist Rod Breslau. “They are the most-viewed game in the world. From a sales perspective, they should be the best. With LCS as a prime example, because that’s the one in North America, they have not done as good of a job as they should have considering the position they’ve been in.”

After FOS’ interview with Aletaha, another non-endemic sponsor: Rocket Mortgage, joined the fold for LCS. Meanwhile, Dr. Pepper, Puma, BMW, AT&T, Honda, Monster Energy and Nissan are among non-endemic brands partnering with specific LCS teams.

Before State Farm and Mastercard came on board, Coca-Cola and American Express both were on Riot Games’ payroll, albeit with lesser deals helping to create brand name legitimacy in the esports space. That had led to non-endemic brands with less name recognition being front and center for the property – for example, sandwich chain Jersey Mike’s was a 2018 Summer Split sponsor for LCS.

“Jersey Mike’s makes some solid-ass sandwiches, but if you’re going to tell me Jersey Mike’s – no disrespect to Jersey Mike’s – is the premier sponsor of the biggest game in the biggest region money wise, and it’s Jersey Mike’s? No,” he said.

Breslau tips his hat to Riot Games’ sales success at the global level and domestic level, outside of the U.S. He thinks LCS should look to one particular country as the standard for success.

“Nike sponsors the LPL,” Breslau said. “The LPL outclasses the LCS in terms of sponsorship, the sales of the league, it’s already a city-based thing in China. The stadiums are packed there. LPL has the best localized league in the world.”

Riot Games is a subsidiary of Tencent, the holding company, which officially owns LPL, meaning Aletaha does not have the same jurisdiction she has for the LoL World Championship and most of the other domestic leagues. But wherever she is pitching sponsors, Aletaha has the same mentality; it’s not just about writing a check. It is about creativity.

READ MORE: ‘Locked In’ Goes Behind the Curtain With NBA 2K League Players

“The right partners want to come in and learn more,” Aletaha said. “The right partners want to come in and say, ‘We understand that we can’t take the exact formula that we use in the traditional sports world and apply it here and net the results that we’re looking for.’ We want partners to bring that expertise they have from traditional marketing, but that want to collaborate with us and create something that’s custom for the gaming audience.”

Breslau is excited but skeptical to see Riot Games dive hard into the non-endemic marketplace. He believes Overwatch League has done a stronger job bringing in non-endemic sponsors in just two seasons.

“Its popularity is nowhere close to the amount of international appeal as LoL, and despite this, Activision/Blizzard – and Bobby Kotick has a lot of power and pull – they have people there who make s*** happen.”

Aletaha claims Riot Games is now in a position to build the deepest non-endemic sponsorship roster in the world. League of Legends is not the only video game set up for financial success, but with a world championship that bring in massive viewership, Riot Games holds the rights to the most lucrative esports branding opportunities at this moment.

Slowly, but surely, traditional commercials powers are loading into the space.

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‘Locked In’ Goes Behind the Curtain With NBA 2K League Players

For Season 2, the NBA 2K League is diving into the lives of its players in the content series “Locked In,” hoping to attract new fans.

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Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Walking through New York City’s Guggenheim Museum, Brian Traynor discusses his love of art and opens up about his life’s hardships, giving NBA 2K League fans a glimpse into the lives of esport athletes rarely seen — until now.

Traynor, or “NachoTraynor” for T-Wolves Gaming, is one of two subjects in the fourth episode of the league’s new behind-the-scenes series, “Locked In Powered by AT&T.”

A fine arts graduate, NachoTraynor rarely had access to museums growing up and now uses his NBA 2K League trips to New York City to visit as many as he can. This also helps clear his head before games. His story is complemented by Cameron “KingCamRoyalty” Ford, a player for Magic Gaming and rapper who uses studio time in a similar fashion.

READ MORE: Allied Esports Recognizes Opportunity in Mexico With New Partnership

“This is one of my favorite episodes because it takes it so far off the court,” says Matt Arden, NBA 2K League head of content and media. “This is the first piece of content we created that honestly has very little 2K League footage and truly is about these two incredibly unique individuals.

“We’ve found that we’re scratching an itch. We feel like highlighting this side of the league is so important to grow league awareness and grow the personalities.”

“Locked In,” is bringing to esports the same sort of access HBO’s Hard Knocks and “24/7” have brought to traditional sports.

Arden joined the NBA 2K League five months ago to help get these types of broadcasts off the ground and help tell stories around the league’s personalities. He believes this type of content is key to attracting more basketball and casual sports fans beyond hardcore gamers. The new series is built on the foundation of “Draft Hopefuls,” a content series that went behind-the-scenes with NBA 2K League prospects behind the Season 2 draft this past March. Arden says that series performed well and affirmed the craving of creative storytelling. This set in motion “Locked In.”

As the NBA 2K League’s second season progresses, having that storytelling beyond the Xs and Os was important. For Roger Caneda, an esports consultant and former Mavs Gaming general manager, he feels hiring Arden and the introduction of behind-the-scenes content will be important for the NBA 2K League’s success and longevity.

“Season one happened so fast, the league wasn’t able to grasp how starting something like the 2K League needed content to be successful,” Caneda says. “Esports is an industry where people are curious, and providing this behind-the-scenes insight is big, not just for 2K but the industry as a whole.

“Diving into content will be huge for everyone.”

Now a fan on the outside, Caneda feels “Locked In” makes him more compelled to watch the games. He might not be alone, according to the NBA 2K League, it has gained 20,000 followers on its YouTube and Twitch channels this year. Total minutes watched has experienced year-over-year growth of 36%. All of NBA 2K League’s live and on-demand content has also generated 25 million views across social channels since the start of Season 2.

With “Locked In,” Arden is doing what he was brought in for, but he is also quick to point out the series is helped immensely by the league’s partnership with AT&T.

“They can’t go unnoticed,” Arden says. “They’re truly looking to build connections and share stories and elevate our game. The conversations we’ve had aren’t about their logo, but they’re invested in the next story we want to tell.”

A simple logo placement would likely be plenty for many partners, but Shiz Suzuki, AT&T AVP of Experiential Marketing and Sponsorship says it is in the company’s best interest to help make the content the best it can be.

“Anything we can do to help bring fans closer to the sport they love is what our NBA partnership is all about and why we’re thrilled to help the NBA 2K League make these stories and this original content series happen,” Suzuki says. “Those who follow the action know how multifaceted these players are, and this series brings that to life with a riveting approach to storytelling that even those unfamiliar with the league can look forward to watching.”

Finding the next players to feature is not difficult for Arden and his team. The production team often comes across stories in broadcasts and then tries to execute an episode with a 10 to 12-day production schedule.

“We have some incredible, multi-dimensional personalities from diverse backgrounds in our league, so it actually hasn’t been that difficult to identify good stories, frankly it’s been difficult to cross some off the lists,” Arden says. “These stories and personalities have emerged naturally on their own and we’ve been trying to be very organic in taking those stories when we see them bubble to the surface and taking them and running with them.”

READ MORE: ‘We Are LAFC’ Shows Off Exclusive Content Opportunity for MLS, ESPN

Right now, “Locked In” is still ironing out the logistics of filming and how to go to market and Season 1 is not even complete — the league hopes to release 10 episodes. Still, Arden’s happy with the product so far and would love to see a second year of “Locked In.” More so than anything, he’s happy with how the storylines are coming full circle to be included in tournament broadcasts.

“The more stories we uncover, the more we talk about individuals, learn about them, the more other players notice, the more fans notice,” he says. “We’re providing a real nice 360 communication around all our communication and broadcast touch points. It’s achieving the goals we wanted  to achieve, no matter the amount of episodes we produce.”

Deeper behind-the-scenes content has helped further engage fans with traditional sports. While the verdict is still out on the new NBA 2K League content, there is plenty for the esports industry to learn from here.

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Allied Esports Recognizes Opportunity in Mexico With New Partnership

Partnering with TV Azteca, Allied Esports hopes to tap into an underserved esports market in Latin America, particularly Mexico.

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Allied Esports is seeking to grow its presence in Latin America with a strategic partnership with TV Azteca.

The partnership gives Allied Esports direct access to 95 percent of the Mexican market with TV Azteca’s digital channels and 40 local and regional free-to-air stations. With the partnership, TV Azteca is also launching its newest platform, Azteca Gaming, which will debut Allied Esports’ newest production, “Nation vs. Nation.”

Allied Esports CEO Jud Hannigan says TV Azteca’s position as a broadcast leader in Mexico provides them a great foundation for potential growth in Latin America, a relatively untapped market in the esports industry.

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“We’re excited about this first event in a new format as a kickoff,” Hannigan says. “They’re launching Azteca Esports and we’re coming in with this first event, and have plenty of others planned. They’re the top sports broadcaster in the region, so we couldn’t be more excited.”

“Nation vs. Nation” is the company’s first event and broadcast in Latin America, and it features four U.S. players against a Mexican team of 40 players in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. A trophy and cash prizes were on the line yesterday in Mexico City.

“The transformation process of TV Azteca, to bring the best television, has led to set an eye in new markets, towards an audience that consumes esports,” says Benjamín Salinas, CEO, TV Azteca. “Sports are part of our strength, and now with esports, we find a way to connect with a growing market in Mexico.”

Broadly speaking, this expansion for Allied Esports encompasses Latin America, but there’s a strategic importance specifically to Mexico, Hannigan notes. The country will be a primary driver of the region’s esports growth in the coming years.

According to eMarketer, Goldman Sachs projects the esports industry will bring in revenues of $2.96 billion in 2022. Latin America will make up $100 million of that.

The article reported the slow growth curve in Latin America is based on a lack of fixed broadband, but significant growth is expected in both Brazil and Mexico. Esports and video game revenue in Mexico jumped from $1.2 million in 2014 to an estimated $10.4 million in 2019 and is projected to rise to $20.3 million in 2022, according to Statista.

“Latin America represents a massive and transformative opportunity for Allied Esports,” says Frank Ng, co-CEO, Ourgame Holdings International – the current owner of Allied Esports. “By combining our live events experience with TV Azteca’s unequaled reach as the No. 1 sports network in Mexico, this crucial esports ecology partnership will be a major driver in building out the offline-online environment at the core of Allied Esports’ global strategy.”

The Allied Esports partnership with TV Azteca comes on the heels of sister company World Poker Tour reaching an agreement with the Latin American broadcaster to carry the poker tour’s library of content in March and develop poker-related products for the region’s audience.

As the World Poker Tour develops its localized content, Hannigan said the partners explored opportunities and landed on looking to grow esports in the region.

READ MORE: Blast Pro Series Debuts in U.S. with Fan Focused Esports Tournament

The approach to Latin America through strategic partnerships will mirror how Allied Esports has tackled other regions of the globe, including Asia, Europe and North America. Along with Latin America, Australia is also in this year’s expansion plans.

“From our perspective, as Allied Esports grows, we’re looking at new regions and to affiliate with strong regional partners,” Hannigan says. “They’re really content-driven partnerships.”

Latin America might lag much of the rest of the world in esports popularity, but with the dearth comes opportunity. At least that’s what Allied Esports is banking on.

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