NewFronts: Machinima Launches Agency for Gaming, E-Sports

Courtesy of Machinima
'Chasing the Cup'

The gaming-centric online network wants to help brands learn how they can "play e-sports for the win."

Over the last year, e-sports has become a growing force in entertainment. But like any emerging interest area, it's still a bit of an unknown entity for marketers. 

Machinima wants to help brands and advertisers make sense of that growing landscape with the launch of MACH-1, an agency that will focus on connecting brands with gaming and e-sports. 

"We can tell you the exact kind of content that's going to resonate with your audience," Machinima CEO Chad Gutstein said of the new agency Friday during his company's NewFronts presentation, adding that "what's not clear to many of you is how you can leverage e-sports as a passion platform." He continued that Machinima wants to help brands answer the question: "How can I play e-sports for the win?" 

E-sports, in which people play video games competitively in front of live or online audiences, has become a large market in recent years. According to new information from researcher SuperData, presented at the Machinima event, over 188 million people will watch competitive gaming this year. And the audience is expected to grow to 302 million by 2020. Meanwhile, revenue in the industry is expected to grow 19 percent to $893 million this year. 

The space has recently attracted interest in Hollywood. The CW aired Machinima's e-sports reality series Chasing the Cup earlier this year; Turner and WME-IMG launched an e-sports league; and Activision Blizzard tapped former NFL Network chief Steve Bornstein to lead its new e-sports division. 

Machinima's annual advertising pitch, held at NeueHouse near Madison Square in New York, focused entirely on e-sports and even included a panel with a number of top e-sports executives. It was a departure from the Warner Bros.-backed company's 2015 event, where it announced a broad slate of new digital video projects — many of which have yet to debut

Now, the company is doubling down on its gaming roots. "Gaming is the new pop culture," Gutstein said at the opening of the presentation, before boasting that Machinima's data has identified six distinct audiences within gaming.  

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the presentation, Gutstein explained that "gaming, in general, and e-sports, in particular, in the last 12 months have hit a tipping point. You don't have to convince people in the marketing space that they need to be active to reach these consumers anymore; however, they don't have a toolset on how to do that." 

The company also has launched Machinima Preferred Media Solutions, a premium network that will help brands target customizable audiences and specialized fan segments in the gaming space.