On Monday February 6th, 2017, the E-Divisie officially kicked off. This gives enough reason to make up a balance concerning the success of the E-Divisie so far. In an article on NUsport, it is stated that the E-Divisie has a bigger growing potential than the Eredivisie itself. Mainly because youngsters prefer watching a FIFA match instead of an Eredivisie match. In the article of NUsport, people who are working in sports marketing, as an eSporter or have a FIFA-related YouTube channel give their view on the E-Divisie.
The Dutch YouTubers all noticed that their viewers prefer a FIFA match instead of a real football match. Mainly because of the success their YouTube channels have, the Eredivisie has contracted a few famous Dutch YouTubers to promote the E-Divisie. Every club in the Eredivisie provides an eSporter who will represent them at national and international tournaments.
The Dutch Eredivisie clubs are also eager to use the eSports trend. Ajax for example opened a new eRoom on the 9th of February 2017. In this eRoom, the club’s eSporters (Koen Weijland and Dani Hagebeuk) have the freedom of creating and streaming content 24/7. The eRoom is located at the youth academy of Ajax: De Toekomst (The Future).
Marc Rondagh, who is working as a development manager at the Eredivisie CV, believes that the E-Divisie is a big opportunity for the Eredivisie. The occupancy rate in stadiums is descending, which in his eyes points out that the interest in the Eredivisie is declining. With the E-Divisie Rondagh hopes to make the Eredivisie interesting again by binding a younger target audience at an early stage. This eventually will lead to the youngsters visiting the stadiums more often. Rondagh thinks that the E-Divisie makes Dutch football more important throughout the whole week instead of only in weekends. Ruud van der Knaap, from sports marketing company Triple Double, thinks the opposite of Marc Rondagh. Van der Knaap thinks that the development of eSports cannot be tied directly to ticket sales of football clubs. In his eyes, the E-Divisie will be mainly good for keeping the connection between a club and its fans. However, it might be possible on a long-term more people will visit the stadiums because of the E-Divisie.
E-Divisie and betting possibilities
The expectation is that betting on E-Divisie matches will be made possible. However, one can also view betting on the E-Divisie negatively: because of the younger target group, children might also encounter sports betting. Given that, it is not unthinkable that the sports betting advertisements will be shown on a later time or that the younger viewers will be protected in another way. On the other hand, the E-Divisie might be a way to introduce the youngsters to betting in a responsible way. It is naïve to think that these young adults won’t encounter betting at their age. That is why it’s better to introduce these youngsters to betting on a more responsible and ethical way. Research done by Jellinek shows that a part of the youngsters already knows what betting is and has done it. The E-Divisie can help in this process by regulating and decide who and how bookmakers can advertise during E-Divisie matches.
If the E-Divisie decides to allow betting, the bookmakers such as TOTO and other foreign parties could profit from this in a lot of ways. The exposure possibilities during the event are mostly with commercials or the eSporter himself. The eSporter plays matches in a jersey of the team which he represents. A possibility for exposure is to print brand logos on the jersey of the eSporter. Bookmakers did and are doing this. An example is Bwin, which has been sponsor and was seen on shirts of a lot of Europe’s top teams such as Real Madrid. Also, the database and followers of the E-Division could be interesting for the bookmakers. Considered the fact that they are already present online and just a couple of mouse clicks away from creating an account.
Now, there are already bookmakers active as a betting partner in eSports. GG Bet is an example for a betting partner who, now, only operates in eSports. On the site of GG Bet there is a possibility to bet on League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Operations and Call Of Duty matches. As soon as you place your bet you have the possibility to watch a free livestream of the game. GG Bet sponsors professional eSports teams such as FNATIC and Team NP. Through this way, they are making use of the exposure opportunities that the eSports offer.
Because the E-Divisie and international FIFA tournaments are broadcasted on Fox Sports, the potential target audience that can be reached instantly becomes a lot bigger. On YouTube, the E-Divisie channel has more than 54.000 subscribers. If you add the exposure that is possible through broadcasting of Fox Sports, it becomes very attractive for bookmakers to invest in the E-Divisie. As we stated before, there are a lot of bookmakers already offering eSports betting. This is a confirmation that there is a demand from the betting world of betting on eSports matches. The E-Divisie matches are now broadcasted every Friday at 15:00. This time is mostly in tune with youngsters, because most adults work throughout the day.