Few industries were prepared for the massive disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic caused throughout 2020, and even fewer were able to find a way to grow. The video game industry, however, did just that, with 82% of global consumers reporting that they played video games and watched game content during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. That heightened engagement has had a halo effect on the burgeoning esports landscape, which has grown into a significant opportunity for brand and sponsor investments. In fact, Nielsen forecasts that sponsorship revenue in the global esports industry will hit $1 billion by next year.

Despite the groundswell of engagement and sponsorship investment, esports has yet to gain mainstream acceptance among brands and advertisers. The opportunity, however, is significant. For example, Riot Games’ League of Legends Championship Series now ranks No. 3 in terms of popularity among professional sports leagues, right behind the NFL and NBA.

As part of Nielsen’s Cannes LIONS Live 2021 virtual experience, Matt Boyd, VP of Sports and Esports at Nielsen, joined an all-star virtual panel to discuss the size of the market, what types of opportunities exist, how digital and in-person activations complement one another, and plans to establish a singular metric for comparable engagement measurement across sports and esports. Matt was joined on the panel by Michael Goldstein, Head of Sponsorships, North America, at Mastercard, and Matthew Archambault, Head of Partnerships and Business Development, North America/Oceania, at Riot Games. Sara Fisher, media reporter at Axios, moderated the panel.

Watch our on-demand recording of this session for more insights into the world of esports.