Nazara Technologies’ NODWIN Gaming is bringing esports to prime time television by launching the Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) Masters Series. Esports, which has seen its reach growing on digital platforms such as YouTube, is now making the transition to TV to widen its reach.
Taking the Indian Premier League (IPL) route, the new series will air for 2-3 hours daily, starting 8:30 PM, from June 24 to July 17. NODWIN has joined hands with Disney Star to air the BGMI Masters Series on the Star Sports 2 channel in Hindi, Tamil and English.
"During the IPL media rights auction, we saw digital taking off. Digital’s cumulative value is higher than TV. But as an (esports) industry that lives on digital, we often don't find validation and legitimacy. As an industry we wanted to break the digital glass ceiling. We thought that if esports is a sport then why are we not sitting on a sports channel," Akshat Rathee, Co-founder and Managing Director, NODWIN Gaming, told Moneycontrol.
Surge in popularity
Esports, a growing sports category in India, is seeing increased acceptance, especially with its inclusion in the 2022 Asian Games. Esports viewership on digital media has touched 17 million. That figure is expected to surpass 85 million unique viewers in India by 2025, said a 2021 EY-FICCI report.
In 2020, the Hindi-language broadcast of the PUBG Mobile World League, which was the last big tournament in Asia, had recorded 449,000 peak viewers, the highest so far.
Along with viewership, the number of platforms on which viewers can watch esports is also expected to increase from 14 platforms in 2020 to over 20 platforms by 2025. And TV now gets added to the list.
Advertising and sponsorship plans
With more viewers, the esports industry is also targeting more brands. Over 50 brands, including prominent national ones such as Airtel, Bookmyshow.com, Flipkart, Monster Energy Drinks, Asus, Redbull and Yes Bank have ventured into esports over the past few years, the report cited above noted.
More brands will be added to the list for the BGMI Master Series TV broadcast as 15 sponsors are likely to come on board. NODWIN is already in the finalisation stage with 10, said Rathee.
"The first season is sponsorship-led. That’s why we are trying not to sell a lot of ad inventory and keeping it for sponsors and sponsorship packages,” he added.
Rathee also said that in the three-hour window when esports games will air on TV, 30-40 minutes of ad inventory will be made available.
The gaming company also said that there are ad slots across the Star network, including the ongoing India versus South Africa cricket series and that they are looking to have ad rates that are second only to India cricket.
Cricket India matches on TV attract ad rates in the range of Rs 1–1.5 lakh, according to marketers.
Rathee said that Star's talks with advertisers for the esports property on TV has shown that brands targeting men, such as shaving brands and those focusing on young adults, are interested to get on board along with telcos and car manufacturers.
While esports is all set to go deeper into the India market with TV broadcasts, for Disney Star, this property comes at a time when the network has only won TV rights for the IPL and lost three others, including the consolidated digital and global rights.With newer properties on its sports channels, Star will look to increase its ad and subscription revenue on TV. According to analysts, ad and subscription revenue for the IPL on TV will grow 6 percent and 3 percent, respectively, in FY24, whereas streaming ad and subscription revenue will surge 28 percent and 30 percent that same year.