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AFL’s strategic move into the esport space

AFL’s strategic move into the esport space

WITH the success of the eSports Intel Extreme Masters held in Sydney over the weekend and continued growth in popularity and exposure, the AFL have confirmed a strategic joint venture with US based Riot Games.

As part of the deal, the AFL and Riot Games will launch a state of origin style tournament in Melbourne in November, with reports suggesting it could be held at AFL’s privately-owned Etihad Stadium.

It will see the best players from the eight-team Oceanic League of Legends compete for their home states in a new short and intense competition.

The governing body’s general manager of growth, digital and audience, Darren Birch, spoke with the Australian Financial Review, stating there are compelling reasons for the AFL to tap into the expertise of a digital-savvy partner that produces a game that has well more than 100 million players around the world each month.

“If you look at our audience they are often engaged early in their lives, they play Auskick then, but we lose some of them when they became teenagers and we have to compete for their time with other things,” Birch said.

“League of Legends is something that has a lot of engagement in that 13 to 39 year old market, especially 13-24 year olds, who are very loyal to and to the brand that support it. So we can see the opportunities there, both in terms of what we can learn from Riot Games in a digital space and also commercial opportunities.”

“I think you can’t just be looking at a traditional football offering if you want to keep expanding your audience. We’ve done research that shows 22 per cent of AFL fans are also interested in e-sports, so there is a connection there. And I can see a time when our clubs having e-sports teams is just as common as having an AFLW team, a men’s side or a netball team as some already do. The barriers to entry to having an e-sports team are low in comparison to doing other things.”

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