BLAST’s Alexander Lewin: “Esports fans like to engage, chat, and really lean into the viewing experience”
January 25, 2024
Last year, BLAST Premier secured a new round of funding to the value of €12.7 million to further fuel the company’s global expansion plans alongside working with prominent game publishers Valve, Ubisoft and Epic Games to create, produce and deliver successful esports ecosystems in Counter-Strike (BLAST Premier), Rainbow Six Siege (BLAST Rainbow Six) and Fortnite (FNCS). iSportConnect’s Taruka Srivastav spoke with Alexander Lewin, SVP for Commercial Revenue at BLAST to know about the 2024 vision of the organisation and more.
The Novo partnership and the completely refreshing angle of how you are using non-endemic companies around new areas of mental health etc. IE you are tackling the supposed negativity around eSports. Great for any Rights Owner to be thinking laterally around who they partner with, can you talk us through the campaign?
Esports and gaming reach millions of fans on a daily basis and therefore offer the potential to be a power for good and positive change. The ‘Away From Keyboard’ campaign, which was produced in cooperation with Novo Nordisk is the perfect example of that. The campaign aimed to drive change, inspire the gaming community by promoting a healthy and balanced lifestyle through influencer-led compelling storytelling and inspirational content.
When you combine a message which deeply resonates with fans alongside a familiar face, you are able to create an initiative that positively impacts audience behaviour and opinion. We were able to achieve that with leading global healthcare company Novo Nordisk, and look forward to recreating this approach and blueprint in the future with our other partners.
BLAST has worked with some of the biggest games in 2023, having just announced an expansion with Epic Games. Is this a further focus for you as a business in 2024 and how important is this to your overall strategy?
Working with the world’s biggest game publishers has been a huge area of growth for BLAST as a business over the last few years. We started off this journey working in Counter-Strike, bringing our unique approach to entertainment value, production quality and industry-leading technology to the industry and the audience alike. The success we enjoyed here has allowed us to grow into other games, such as Rainbow Six Siege, DOTA 2, VALORANT, Apex Legends, FIFA 2022 and Fortnite – enticing game publishers to take the cooperation into multi-year partnerships.
In 2024, we are working with Valve, Ubisoft and Epic Games to build successful, sustainable and popular ecosystems in Counter-Strike, Rainbow Six Siege, Rocket League and Fortnite. We look forward to growing these ecosystems, which offer near limitless commercial opportunities with globally leading brands and broadcasters.
How is esports unique for brands compared to other industries, and what opportunities does it provide?
A number of key factors turn engagement with esports into a unique and very beneficial experience for brands. To begin, esports has a phenomenal and truly global following, that allows brands exposure to millions of fans. BLAST events are broadcast in 150+ territories in over 27 languages which enables us to offer brands bespoke engagement in nearly every territory world-wide.
In terms of demographic, esports provides brands with the opportunity to reach a young audience with 85% of esports fans aged between 18-35. Our brand partners find the opportunity to reach a youthful, tech savvy and engaged audience hugely appealing.
When it comes to engagement, esports offers the opportunity to build deep engagement with fans and add to the fan/viewer experience in new ways. Esports fans like to engage, chat, and really lean into the viewing experience. To that end we recently launched our custom and in-house built live viewing platform BLAST.tv, which has pushed the esports viewing experience to new heights. Fans have a multitude of integrated experiences at their disposal – among many other features they can chat, vote, re-watch key moments in real time and spend time with like-minded fans.
BLAST has visited countless locations around the world in 2023, how important is it to take esports events to global locations and what does this do for host cities and brands?
It’s hugely important not only to offer fans a compelling streaming and broadcast experience but to ensure we are taking these events to as many different locations as possible so global gaming communities and fans get to experience esports up close and personal.