Sports vs. e-sports: who will win?

October 2016, article published originally in El Periódico de Catalunya


Sports vs. e-sports: who will win?


Four million five hundred thousand dollars. Thirty seconds. That is what the most expensive ad of the year costs in the US. It happens during the transmission of a sports show, the finals of the American National Football League. This televised moment is equivalent to the midnight bells on New Year’s Eve, the most expensive minute of the year for advertising in Spain. You can imagine, right? To blink is, perhaps, to miss something important.

Is it worth it to pay this kind of money? Is it the best way to impact your consumers? Obviously, it is an important moment: the whole world is gathered around the television, eyes glued to the screen. What can we buy with this money in other digital media? Well, 50 million Facebook visits, or 6.5 million clicks on Google ads, or several days of full brand presence on pages like Yahoo.

What do we do? Do we keep creating ads for television during the replay of a live sports event? You won’t find me a radical opposed to advertising in the king of all media. It’s practical, and depending on the product, the cost per impact is still reasonable.

In both the US and Spain, important channels are coming to agreement with companies that manage e-sport competitions

Not long ago I saw the audience data for three sports finals in the US. Two of them were traditional sports, the finals of major baseball leagues, the professional basketball finals (NBA), and the finals for a videogame competition.

Which do you think had a greater audience? The one with the stick hitting a ball had 23.5 million, the one with a basket 18 million and the one in the electronic world, 27 million. This has provoked the large television chains to realize that maybe they should go where their audiences are, because behind them come ads, and behind them, income and benefits.

So in the US, the main sports channel, ESPN, has reached an agreement with the company that manages an e-sports competition, with the idea of retransmitting on television what up until now was exclusively internet territory: people playing video games against each other, competitively.

There are people with an incredible vision, like for example Ignacio Trimbó, a student I had years ago. With great discernment, he anticipated 6 years ago that this phenomenon was not going to stay locked up on the other side of the Atlantic, but that it would leap to other latitudes. Fandroid Entertainment, the company he participates in with other entrepreneurs, owner of the Professional Videogame League, with a current audience of 10 million unique users in one year and spectacular growth, has reached an agreement with Mediapro, a Spanish multinational centered on the production of audiovisual content (owned by the largest marketing services company in the world, WPP), to reach more people. Innovative alternatives for brands to connect with their new clients. Bravo!


Formado en la Escuela Suiza (habla 4 idiomas), Pablo Foncillas es licenciado en derecho y MBA del IESE Business School. Compagina su vida en el entorno académico y como conferenciante junto con roles directivos y de consultoría en varias industrias desde los años 90. ¿Hablamos? Clica aquí para contactarme por correo electrónico