UTA Acquires E-Sports Agency, Management Firm to Expand Gaming Business

Courtesy of UTA
Sam Wick (left), Ophir Lupu

The talent agency will add more than 90 e-sports athletes and top streamers to its roster as part of the deal.

UTA is bulking up its e-sports business with the acquisition of two companies that work with talent in the fast-growing field. 

The talent agency on Wednesday announced that it has purchased sister companies Press X, an e-sports talent and marketing agency, and Everyday Influencers, a management company.

As part of the deal, UTA plans to launch an e-sports group that will include more than 90 athletes and video game streamers, including League of Legends players Aphromoo and sOAZ and streamers Imaqtpie and Pokimane. Damon Lau, who co-founded Press X and Everyday Influencers, will head the new group and report to UTA Games head Ophir Lupu and UTA Ventures head Sam Wick. By acquiring these companies, UTA now represents professional gamers, streamers and game developers. 

"As we identify and adopt early trends within the digital ecosystem, we recognized that the acquisition of Press X and Everyday Influencers would be a forward-looking opportunity for us," said UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer. "The gaming sector is projected to reach over $135 billion this year and e-sports and streaming are critical components of any strategy for growth. For UTA, these categories are complementary to our existing gaming practice and our business overall."

Added Lau, "Our agency represents an amazing roster of talent that truly personify the best of the e-sports community and streaming culture. With UTA's vast resources and track record of establishing talent in entertainment and music, we are thrilled to lead this seismic change in the industry and to drive the convergence of games, sports and culture." 

The field of professional video gaming has grown significantly in recent years. The industry is expected to generate more than $1.5 billion in revenue by 2020 as more professional leagues form and marketers rush into the space. Interest in e-sports has also benefitted from the rise of live game streaming on platforms like Amazon-owned Twitch. 

Hollywood has turned its attention to e-sports, long a popular form of entertainment in Asia, as the audiences in the U.S. have grown. WME | IMG entered the space in 2015 with the acquisition of Global eSports Management. The agency followed up the deal with the launch of ELeague, but the team left WME last July. Earlier this month, ICM formed a joint venture with e-sports agency Evolved, giving the firm's client list access to the agency's offerings. 

For UTA, the acquisition of Press X and Everyday Influencers grows its seven-year-old games division, through which it works with such studio and developer clients as Moon Studios, Panache Digital Gaming, Redemption Games and Big Huge Games. The agency says that the group has advised on more than $350 million in transactions since it was established.

"We have both witnessed the paradigm shift in the consumption of gaming content and the rapid maturation of e-sports as an influential force in mainstream culture," Lupu and Wick said in a joint statement. "As UTA deepens its role in the e-sports sector, the addition of Press X and Everyday Influencers and the level of expertise they bring will be invaluable. Damon and his team are unrivaled in their breadth of knowledge in the space as well as in the representation of their incredible clients. We could not be more excited for the limitless opportunities we will create together."