How brands can benefit from participating in the NHL’s eSports tournament

Paul HiebertData Journalist
March 28, 2018, 2:00 PM GMT+0

New figures reveal eSports fans are more receptive to advertising than the general public

The puck has officially dropped in the NHL’s first official eSports tournament. The multi-week, single-elimination online event, dubbed the 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship, features players from Europe, Canada, and the US competing on EA Sports’ NHL 18, on either Xbox One or PlayStation 4. The winner receives a trophy, cash prize, and tickets to the 2018 NHL Awards.

According to the latest data from YouGov Profiles, men between the ages of 18 and 34 are the group most likely to be either very, somewhat, or a little bit interested in eSports. These eSports fans tend to live in cities (41%) or suburbs (32%), as opposed to towns (12%) or rural areas (14%).

Overall, eSports fans show more interest in the nation’s four major professional sports leagues — the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB — than members of the general public.

Although eSports fans indicate a lower level of interest in the NHL (68%) than the other leagues, the same is true for US adults in general (40%).

Unlike the general public, however, a clear majority of eSports fans express interest in the NHL. With a difference of 28 percentage points, the NHL has one of the biggest gaps in interest between eSports fans and members of the general public. (Only the NBA has more, with a 31-point difference.) Additional data suggests NHL fans are more likely to be interested in eSports than fans of the NFL, NBA, or MLB, implying a promising connection between hockey and the emerging world of competitive gaming.

Corporate partners of the 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship include Bridgestone and Honda at the global level and Dunkin’ Donuts and Geico in the US.

YouGov data reveals that eSports fans, NHL fans, and the general public all have relatively similar impressions of Bridgestone, Honda, and Dunkin’ Donuts, with no difference in opinion amounting to more than three percentage points. For Geico, however, the difference is slightly greater: eSports fans are four points more likely to have a positive impression of the insurance brand than NHL fans, and five points more likely than US adults in general.

Significant differences, however, occur when examining attitudes toward advertising. In this case, 60% of US consumers interested in eSports report that advertising helps them choose what to buy, compared to 49% of NHL fans and 46% of the general public. At the same time, eSports fans are more likely to wish they could see more advertisements with families like theirs (55%), enjoy watching ads starring their favorite celebrities (50%), and enjoy ads on TV (40%).

All this suggests that, with the right strategy, brands have a potential to benefit from getting in front of an eSports audience.

Photo: Getty

Find out more about YouGov BrandIndex