June 22, 2020 / 1:30 PM / 11 days ago

Japan ad agency Dentsu teams up to promote esports

FILE PHOTO: People play a game during the Game XP 2018 at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s largest advertising agency Dentsu Group Inc said on Monday it was partnering with the newly established Global Esports Federation, bringing its heft in sports marketing to the fast-growing sector.

The popularity and prize money in esports already rivals that of traditional sport and has taken on many of its hallmarks including packed-out stadiums, star athletes and big name sponsors.

Esports, or competitive video gaming, has also received a boost from the coronavirus outbreak, as stuck at home gamers turn to streaming platforms like Amazon’s Twitch - although its real world elements mean it is not immune from the pandemic’s disruptive impact.

Dentsu will work with gaming companies, commercial partners and international bodies in conjunction with the federation to further the “credibility, legitimacy and prestige” of esports, it said in statement.

The Singapore-based Global Esports Federation was established in late 2019 with the backing of China’s top gaming firm Tencent Holdings in an attempt to bring structure to the growing but fragmented global esports scene.

Dentsu is pushing into esports after being at the forefront of helping to develop a market for sports sponsorship and marketing for decades, using its dominant position in its home market and leverage with blue chip clients to funnel money into global sport.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the culmination of years of behind the scenes work by Dentsu, have been delayed until next year due to the virus, punching a hole in its earnings.

Esports remains underpowered in Japan, where PC gaming lags consoles and mobile gaming and there are restrictions on prize money, although local firms are making efforts to increase its popularity.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Susan Fenton

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