By Jacob Wittwer
As top esports athletes and developers gathered in Los Angeles for E3 2018, ESPN and HP highlighted their unique partnership to gain leverage in the growing industry.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of E3, OMEN by HP and ESPN hosted a VIP event for gamers and industry insiders at ESPN’s LA Live location, where attendees received exclusive access to new OMEN products and played alongside esports athletes, Benita Novshadian, Diane Tran, and Adam Rigdon. Attendees also relaxed in ESPN’s eSports studio alongside Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame basketball player and commentator, Bill Walton.
For ESPN and HP, both relatively new faces in the esports arena, the event was an avenue to reach out to esports athletes and the gaming community.
“It shows the commitment we have made not just in LA—we have a studio in Bristol as well—to get close to the teams and players who really provide unique, innovative content,” said ESPN’s Director of Social Media and esports/Gaming, Roshni Cox.
OMEN by HP Marketing Manager, Ming-Chin Wu called OMEN, “the new kid on the block” having only entered the esports and gaming industry two-years ago. She also emphasized the event as an opportunity to demonstrate the values of OMEN while allowing gamers to engage with OMEN products.
“The brand mission is to really inspire gamers, to never stop improving and that is why we keep wanting to do more in esports,” said Wu.
In the past few years, esports have rapidly grown into a near-billion dollar industry. By 2019 revenues are expected to pass the billion dollar mark. Although ESPN’s focus has always been on traditional sports, the sport media giant dedicated a vertical on its digital platform to esports in 2016.
“What you are seeing with ESPN is we are evolving and we’ve embraced this sport and we’re learning,” said Cox.
Still, the well-entrenched and tight-knit gaming community is a largely new audience for ESPN. Entering this sphere requires ESPN to win over the trust of the community. To do so, they have enacted a grassroots approach, hiring reporters and writers directly from the community.
“We didn’t just tap a random NFL reporter or random UFC reporter. We understand that there is a unique dynamic in how we speak to the community,” said Cox.
The partnership with HP provides value in this area to ESPN.
“Partnerships like this with HP allow us to just get more insight into the different games and fans that are out there,” Cox said.
ESPN says adapting its coverage to include esports is about serving sport fans’ interests.
“It goes back to our mantra of serving sports fans anytime, anywhere. And gamers are sports athletes just as much as any stick and ball sport,” Cox noted.