Manny Anekal
Aug 2, 2016 · 6 min read

TNL Take: I’m not a big fan of open letters. It’s better to try to resolve issues before taking this route or privately at least. But to each their own.

I had a few interesting conversations yesterday around the general state of eSports, Brands and the future. In today’s age it’s very easy to be taken out of context due to the “soundbiteification” of Media and a seemingly inherent quickness in judgement. The HBO Documentary “There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane” is a fascinating study into what happens when someone’s entire life is boiled down to one moment.

So let me begin.


I’ve been a Gamer before it was cool to be a Gamer. And that’s not bragging. I’m just old. My first Gaming system was the Intellivision back in 1981. I love telling my Mom:

“You know all those hours and hours of playing Tecmo Bowl? Well I got a job in the Gaming industry”

The “make Gretzky bleed” scene from Swingers in 1996 was literally my life in college.

(Source: YouTube)

I’ve had the pleasure of working in the Gaming industry since 2005, starting at Massive Inc, which was then bought by Xbox. I’ve met tons of amazing people in Gaming.

People criticize the gender inequality and harassment of the female audience by Gamers. But here’s the reality: I’ve been to a 50+ game development studios and publishers around the world. The % of women in the Gaming workplace is actually pretty good. I’ve worked in Finance, Media and Advertising as well. Let’s not even go there on female inequality.

So let me say this:

I have a passion for eSports. I believe in eSports. I know if we’re able to build a true infrastructure within eSports, it has a viable long term future. And I don’t want to see that fail.


This is where it starts to be challenging. I feel as if eSports currently is the female camper walking towards the lake in an ’80s horror movie. She’s pretty but it’s not looking good for her future.

The reason I feel this way is I’ve seen this movie before. Many. Many. Times before. I’ve been working within the Gaming and Advertising space since most current people in eSports were in High School.

I’ve already outlined all this in my article “In Game Advertising: Failure or Future?” from last October 2015 but let me recap:

  • Static Ads (Pre-2006): Developer effort. Takes too long. Limited in game inventory.
  • Dynamic In Game Ads (2006): Too complicated. Too much integration. No Standards.
  • IAB Gaming Committee (2009): Still too complicated even with IAB Gaming Committee to devise metrics. How do I know? I was on the Committee.
  • Social Ads (2011): Great until Facebook no longer needed the inventory or money.
  • Mobile Reward Ads (2013): Completely taken over by In App Install Ads or Direct Response. Very little Brand investment.
  • eSports (2016) ?

Starting to see the pattern?

When you’ve continually lost the war, you see the how the next battles are going to play out.


Let’s try this example. Imagine there’s a new underground sport called Battle Ballet. It’s the hottest thing in Media and Sports in the past few years. There’s a lot of investment and headlines. I’ve been a passionate fan about Ballet my whole life and really want to see Ballet succeed and hope to build a business around it.

I’m not seeing the analysis on the business side of Battle Ballet that I want to read so I start writing about it. Battle Ballet has primarily been streaming on Bwitch. NBC decides to take the risk and make the first plunge by establishing B LEAGUE. No other major media company has made a similar big investment. So I write 10,000 words on NBC, Battle Ballet and Bwitch.

Now replace Battle Ballet with eSports, NBC for Turner and Bwitch for Twitch.


At the end of the day, Media companies have one goal: to drive revenue against their content which primarily comes from Advertising. So if you want to make more money, you need to keep your Brands happy and keep buying.

Which means from the PR or Marketing side, why would you ever release data or stats that show you may not have achieved the goals you set out. That wouldn’t be smart.

Conversely, the same works for Agencies or companies that work with the same Brands. If they generate their revenue by providing strategy, advisor or Media services; they’re going to provide the best value to their clients. This value comes in the form of strategic guidance.

What the hell is eSports? Why should I care? What does this mean to my Brand? Wait it’s not just 14-year olds? Which of the ten eSports games, five leagues, three broadcasters should I work with? What do you mean Facebook and Twitter are involved in eSports?

Now when the metrics of what constitutes Advertiser ROI gets blurred, it just makes everyone’s job harder. See my next article on ESPN and EVO.


If you play Poker or enjoy Gambling you know this already — the hands or bets your lose will haunt you a lot longer than anything you win. It’s just human nature. You’re going to remember the bad a lot more than the good.

It’s the same reason someone will leave a critical review after one bad experience — but fail to leave a good review after 10 straight great experiences. Welcome to life.

Same applies here. If you really look through what I’ve analyzed about E LEAGUE; there’s been plenty of praise:

  • I’ve said it many times here, online, to journalists and even on SiriusXM IGN eSports Today — E LEAGUE has the been best production of anyone in eSports. Their history in traditional sports clearly shows.
  • It’s super, super hard to not only sell Gaming, to not only sell eSports, to not only learn a new media category — but to then have to sell Counter-Strike is even harder. Yet Turner was not only able to close 3 Major Non-Endemic Brands against Counter-Strike, of which none of those Brands had previously invested in Gaming. I’ll say it again — it’s hard.

I’ve analyzed Twitch, MLG, ESL, Drone Racing League, China and many others in the same way.

[Here’s another tidbit I’ve also mentioned before: My first job in Digital Media was with Turner Broadcasting in 1999. It was the start of Online Advertising and no one knew what was going to happen but we had an awesome time figuring it out — “Let’s sell books on CNN’s homepage!. Hey Lexus, here’s the Internet!” Some of my favorite people in the industry and friends I still keep in contact with came from my time at Turner]

If anything, anytime I have conversations around this I’m just going to point back here.

I’ll have additional follow up tomorrow on ESPN’s updated EVO numbers to close on the challenges of mixing Digital and TV data for eSports.


TNL Take: I’ll have a full wrap-up on E LEAGUE once I’ve received all the multi-platform data and have some time to digest everything but some quick points on Week 10 Semi-Finals:

  • 295K Total Viewers
  • ~165K 18–49 Viewers (Don’t have actuals but estimate based on trend)
  • Strong increase of ~15% over Season 1 Average
  • By just barely beating Week 7’s Bye Week which was a 1-hour recap show, I believe you still need to consider if 3 hours is too long and especially on a Friday night.

The big one for me? The Saturday Finals numbers.

Thanks for sharing your time!

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The Next Level

The Business Of eSports

Manny Anekal

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The Next Level

The Business Of eSports

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