Akshit Pushkarna
Gaming and e-Sports

Lifting ban on BGMI boosts brand interest in Indian esports

Skyesports SCS BGMI 2023 was the first BGMI tournament hosted after it was unbanned. Shiva Nandy of Skyesports, and Ashwin Suresh of Loco, detail advertiser interest and viewership for the event.

After facing a suspension of 10 months, Krafton’s Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) was reinstated by the government for three months. At the time of its ban, BGMI was the most downloaded game in India.

Given the high public interest in the game, its reinstatement opened up new opportunities for the growing esports industry. Subsequently, multiple esports organisers, like Skyesports, Nodwin Gaming, Upthrust, among others, began hosting BGMI tournaments.

Skyesports, a part of JetSynthesys, became the first mover and organised a two-week tournament. Skyesports Champions Series (SCS) BGMI 2023 started on June 9, three weeks after the ban was lifted.

The tournament’s title sponsor was mobile manufacturer Tecno. Semiconductor company AMD and e-commerce platform Flipkart acted as the ‘powered by’ and ‘co-powered by’ sponsors, respectively. Zebronics was the ‘peripherals partner’, and Redbull advertised during the tournament’s streaming.

Streaming platform Loco served as the broadcasting partner for the event. As per the organisers, the tournament amassed a total viewership of 30 million across YouTube and Loco. The peak concurrent watching (CCV) on Loco, stood at 1.31 lakh.

The majority of viewership for BGMI-based tournaments, includes mobile gamers, aged between 15 and 25, who interact with the game on their phones. Most people tend to consume these tournaments on their laptops or systems.

The tournament opens up an opportunity for brands whose target audience includes is young mobile gamers, opines Shiva Nandy, founder and CEO at Skyesports. Hence, the company approached brands in these categories.

Speaking about brand interest in the tournament, Nandy shares, “BGMI is one of the most important titles, in terms of sponsorships and brand interest, in esports. Surprisingly, when we approached brands for SCS, which was the first esports event held after the game was unbanned, we saw no rejections of the proposal. We were able to finalise four brand advertisers within a week of announcing the event.”

Skyesports also aired the tournament in Malayalam. Nandy shares that the company is looking to build regional language broadcasts as a USP. “We chose Malayalam because there’s a strong esports following in Kerala and our other IPs have performed quite well in the state. The tournament was trending in the state and had a concurrent viewership of over 3,000.”

The company has applied for licenses to host more BGMI-based tournaments with Krafton. The company has tentative plans to execute more BGMI tournaments in July and August.

Other BGMI championships that are being hosted at the moment have also seen some brand interest. RooterxNodwin BGMI Champions Cup 2023 is powered by Lenskart. Battlegrounds Mobile Open (BMOP) was powered by iQOO.

Meanwhile, SCS BGMI 2023 streaming partner for this tournament – Loco – is partnering with other organisers for more IPs around the game. Upthrust’s ‘BGMI Challengers Showdown’ will be streaming on the platform till July 2.

Ashwin Suresh, founder, Loco, shares that IPs around BGMI, are highly monetisable for the platform, since they have a proven history of providing consistent returns to brand advertisers. He adds that the platform offers different ad inventories for brands for these streams.

During the tournament, brand logos and ads could be seen on the stream of the event as well as inside the game. In the tournament, Tecno, AMD and Loco’s brand logo was present on the in-game flight route. The tournament had segments during which the commercials of Tecno, Redbull and Zebronics were aired.

Suresh says that on-ground events will lead to more activation opportunities for the advertisers.

“The livestreams on streaming platforms support interactivity with the audiences as well. Our watch party feature, where people can stream together, brought in a sizeable viewership for the event. These features allow us to have a greater ad inventory than other OTTs, which leads to more IPs being hosted on Loco,” says Suresh.

He shares that video games like BGMI are quite pivotal for the gaming industry in India. esports tournaments like SCS feature players and teams that have a fan following.

As these streamers grow, they will gradually start venturing into other games and esports tournaments, and their fans will then follow them to other IPs as well. Hence, games like BGMI hold a trickle-down effect on the gaming industry as a whole, adds Suresh.

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