Manoj George, CBO, Nodwin Gaming, details how simulcast of BGMI Masters Series on Rooter and Star Sports will benefit eSports viewership.
It's been a while since an eSports competition made an appearance on an Indian television set. However, this changed over the weekend (August 4) when Nodwin Gaming x Star Sports BGMI Masters Series Season 2 (BGMS 2023) began its telecast on Star Sports.
The tournament is also being streamed live on the gaming platform Rooter. The tournament commenced on August 4 and features 24 teams, offering a prize pool of Rs 2.1 crore.
The aforementioned competition's inaugural season (BGMS 2022) was the first eSports IP to go live in India last year, between June 24 and July 17. However, the titular game, Krafton’s Battlegrounds Mobile India (formerly PUBG Mobile India), was banned shortly after BGMS on July 28.
BGMI has been the most played game in India since its introduction, making it a driving force behind the upsurge of eSports in the country. In 2021, the industry was projected to grow to Rs 1100 crores by 2025, with a CAGR of 46%.
Nonetheless, since the most popular game was banned, eSports didn’t make a comeback to TV screens for over a year. While eSports’ broadcasts on digital platforms like Rooter and Loco continued, Manoj George, CBO, Nodwin Gaming, believes that TV plays a pivotal role in driving growth for BGMS viewership.
“Making an entry on television showcases that the game has now become mainstream. It ensures a promising future for the entire eSports ecosystem as telecasts provide significant visibility to the talent of eSports athletes,” he highlights.
The eSports organiser believes that telecasts ensure the games reach people who haven’t necessarily delved into the world of eSports. George shares that last year’s BGMS broadcast had a viewership of about 36 million on TV. The company aims to match or exceed that viewership with BGMI Masters Series Season 2.
“We have hosted content on various OTT platforms, such as Hotstar and Rooter, in recent times. Digital platforms are still expected to bring in the majority of viewership, as most of the viewers, the Gen-Z, are more active on digital platforms."
"Viewership on digital platforms will always be the preferred channel for consumption. However, this marks the first instance of eSports appearing on a major sports media channel. When the non-gaming community starts watching the game on television and experiences its engaging nature, they are more likely to tune in," he emphasises.
Highlighting the growing influence that gaming holds, Sanjog Gupta, Head of Sports, Disney Star, says, "Esports is a rapidly emerging category, fueled by the growing gaming culture in India and the global recognition of its status as a sport. Over 36 million viewers tuned in for the first season of BGMI Masters' series, in partnership with NODWIN Gaming, on TV, with more than 40% below the age of 21."
"Encouraged by the results, we believe that this endeavor - BGMI Masters - will excite the gaming community, drive wider acceptance for esports among non-gamers, and, overall, engage a younger demographic on our platforms."
Traditionally, only brands endemic to the gaming culture used to advertise on eSports tournaments. When the tournament was exclusively on digital platforms, brands like Logitech, Intel, and other mobile phone brands were the ones investing in esports, George says.
The mainstreaming of the tournament has attracted more non-endemic brand advertisers. Last year, brands like Swiggy, Hyundai, Spotify, and Hyundai associated with BGMS’ first season. This year, TVS and Phillips have come onboard as mobility and styling partners. Ad placements for brands Kreo and Lenskart were also integrated in the Rooter stream.
George shares that the ad assets for the telecast are similar to any television intellectual property. However, beyond the traditional brand inventory, brand integrations hold more appeal for advertisers. He cites last year's stream, which led to Spotify creating an Indian Gaming tracklist for gamers, promoting the tournament and generating significant engagement for Spotify as well.
“Hyundai’s car placement was showcased last year. There are plenty of opportunities for product placement in the telecast because, much like a cricket field, we also have a stage where the players are competing. There are places to physically integrate products there, along with studio integrations and integrations within the broadcast,” Gautam Virk, co-founder and co-CEO, NODWIN Gaming, says.