Toronto digital media company theScore has added to its growing suite of mobile products with a new app dedicated to the rapidly growing competitive gaming space.
Introduced last week for Android (an iOS version will follow), the free electronic sports app offers news and information about popular competitive gaming titles such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty and StarCraft II.
The app is North American based for now, though project manager Chris Chae said theScore plans to explore strong competitive gaming markets such as China and South Korea. TheScore began planning the product early last year, with development beginning in earnest around September.
Touted by theScore as the first standalone app devoted to competitive gaming, the e-sports app has a dedicated staff of around 30 people, half of them full-time writers and the other half freelance writers based in Canada and international markets including the U.S., Australia and Germany. “It’s very much an international project,” said Chae.
Subway Restaurants is on-board as the Canadian launch partner in a deal brokered by its media agency, Carat Canada. The QSR chain has exclusivity on the app’s mobile and tablet versions through April.
Taylor Coulis, an account executive with theScore, said future ads would resemble those on its flagship app, such as a presenting sponsorship on the launch page as well as native units in the news feed. He said the app provides advertisers with access to an affluent and highly engaged male 18-34 demographic that is difficult to reach through conventional media.
“The pitch to brands is that these guys are in love with the product they’re engaging with,” said Coulis. “This isn’t a passive interaction like flipping through a magazine – these are people that eat, sleep and breathe the product they play with and take it very seriously.”
Coulis said potential ad partners could include movie studios, automotive, mobile, financial services, quick-service restaurants and “low-hanging fruit” like video game companies. More tier one brands are gravitating towards the space as its strength and reach become apparent, he said.
“Wherever there are eyeballs there are going to be advertisers,” said Coulis. “Brands are constantly looking for new growth areas and new opportunities, and this is one of the fastest-growing areas on Earth.”
Competitive gaming attracted more than 71 million worldwide viewers in 2013 (more than double the previous year) according to an April 2014 report from the research firm Superdata.
The report said publishers and leading consumer brands are beginning to experiment with so-called “e-sports” in an effort to reach affluent young males, who comprise more than three-quarters of e-sports viewership in the U.S.
Recently, more than 27 million people worldwide watched the final round of the League of Legends world championship from Seoul (which was broadcast in the U.S. by ESPN3), exceeding the U.S. audience for Game 7 of the World Series and the deciding game of the NBA finals.
The e-sports segment is also attracting investor interest. Last year, Amazon paid US$970 million for the live video game-streaming site Twitch, which boasts more than 55 million users who spend more than 100 minutes a day on the site.
The new app ads to theScore’s growing suite of mobile products, which includes its flagship app theScore, soccer-focused ScoreMobile FC and Swoopt – a fantasy sports app acquired from San Francisco-based ApptheGame in December. As of Q1 2015 (September to November 2014), theScore had 10.2 million average monthly active users across its mobile platforms.