Nielsen announces new division to measure esports sponsorships

Another sign that e-sports are turning into a big business: Nielsen is launching a new division focused providing research and consulting to the industry.

The measurement firm already has a unit focused on gaming — in fact, Nicole Pike, Nielsen’s vice president of gaming, said Nielsen Esports was created in response to growing interest from the firm’s gaming clients. One of the biggest opportunities, Pike said, lies in measuring the value of e-sports sponsorships.

“It’s clear that there’s a gap in the e-sports industry,” she said. “There’s a huge opportunity for there to be some solid metrics.”

To provide those metrics, Nielsen is drawing on its previous work evaluating sports sponsorships. This new team will sit at the intersection of the firm’s gaming and sports units, with Pike leading the research side and Stephen Master, managing director of Nielsen Sports North America, heading the commercial side.

The firm has already developed a sponsorship tracking service called Esport24. Apparently there’s a big range in e-sports sponsorships — the firm says that in the tournaments it’s tracked so far this year, it’s seen playoff sponsorships provide as little as $75,000 in value to the advertiser, and as much as $17 million.

Pike also said Nielsen can serve as “an impartial third party in the whole e-sports discussion.” It won’t be doing this on its own — it has also created an advisory board with representatives from ESL, ESPN, Facebook, FIFA, Major League Gaming/Activision Blizzard, NBA 2K League, The Next Level, Sony PlayStation, Turner, Twitch, Twitter, Unilever and Google/YouTube.