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"Esports content consumption will grow 3x by 2021": Nodwin Gaming's Lalita Nayak

The pandemic has given a big boost to esports.

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After her degree in English Literature from Ramnarain Ruia College, Lalita Nayak went on to work with some of the biggest brands including Times Group and JP Morgan for brand strategies and advertising, sponsorship and more.

As she mentions, she has been a marketer for a large portion of her career and has driven operations at some respected positions. Having seen the axiomatic paradigm shift with the advent of digital, she is a seasoned marketer with valuable experience. A few months back, the marketing veteran joined NODWIN Gaming as the head of sales and marketing to drive the brand to further success after a stint of almost six years with CNBC-TV18 as the head of marketing (west).

Esports being a fairly new industry is already turning heads. According to a market research report, the global esports market is expected to grow from $1.09 billion in 2019 to $1.11 billion in 2020 at a growth rate of 2.16 per cent. The slow growth in 2020 is mainly due to the economic slowdown across countries owing to the COVID2019 outbreak and the measures to contain it. The market is then expected to grow and reach $2.11 billion in 2023 at CAGR of 23.82 per cent. North America was the largest region in the esports market in 2019. The Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest-growing region in the forecast period.

Indiantelevision.com group’s Krishanu Ghosal spoke to Lalita Nayak to get an idea on what to expect out the market and NODWIN Gaming. She was precise and insightful about best marketing practices and her newfound love for the gaming and esports industry.

Edited excerpts:

Let’s talk esports, this is your foray into esports, what do you feel about the transition?

You’re right. I’ve not worked with the esports industry before. Earlier I used to work for television and news and I’ve worked with a few renowned media houses. In both places, the audiences were very mature and evolved. Gaming or esports has a very different audience. The audience is diametrically opposite. The consumption of esports-related content is mostly done by an age group and almost 60 per cent of our audience is in that specific age bracket. I won’t say they are mostly but they are primarily in the 16 to 24 age group.

If you could elaborate a little more on that?

Today’s 11 to 24-year-old age group hardly watch TV; they are all on OTT platforms they are all consuming digital content. The generation after that I am not even sure, they will be even more specific, I think. So, my audience majorly stays on a platform like YouTube. It provides interactive entertainment. You are sitting and watching stuff on YouTube and reacting to it live. Esports has grown over the past few years in India. It’s not just about active views but about active interaction with the game. They are no longer sitting and watching they are actually commenting on it.

What about the audience?

This audience has a mind of its own, this audience believes that they understand the world and they also want to change the world. So, there is a big difference and this is, of course, connected to the next generation, the future. The next set of entertainment sport will be coming from this sector is what I believe.
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What are your views on the Indian esports scenario as opposed to the southeast Asian or the western counterparts?

The southeast Asian (SEA) counterparts have developed a lot. So, in places like Thailand, the Philippines, they have an evolved set of audience. There is a vast difference in the scenario between SEA and India because their audiences consume far more digital entertainment. We have other issues such as huge parts of our country surviving on 2G network.

What do you think can be done to make Indian esports much more lucrative for brands?

Firstly, it is the comparison that the marketers make between traditional activation of a brand vs esports. Esports is a very niche industry where we need specific branding to people who understand gaming and are strategy-oriented. This consumer base has a very stoked up interest and they have very particular preferences. So, our first interaction is to make them understand the fan base.

The second thing about esports is that there is a lack of standardisation. For example, when the tournaments arrive, everybody proclaims that they are the largest tournament in the world. Is that really true? So, those things create an imbalance in the market because the contradiction is there.

What about the shift in marketing paradigm?

Most marketers need immediate results and in esports that cannot be. It will take time. That doesn’t mean it will take two decades but it is a bus that nobody should miss. When I started my career around 2013-14, digital was something that didn’t exist. It was two or three per cent of the marketing budget. Today in esports it is almost 100 per cent. For other brands from 30 per cent in March, it has gone to 80 per cent. Esports is something you don’t want to live without. It is a bit more complicated with much more novelty. It is an industry full of people with a lot of passion, who love challenges and gaming. I am talking about people who are not just a part of this industry, I’m talking about people who are actually viewing and playing.

Let’s talk about viewership.

Our viewership has gone up by 50 per cent in the last four months. In fact, recently I was talking to one brand and it was astonishing. They told me that there is a group of people of a particular age group about 14 to 24. They were either studying or playing games. They were not even watching a lot of content because there was no new content coming out on OTT platforms. Recently in the last month, we’ve started posting fresh content. Every day we were streaming live for three to four hours over the last three months.

So, the pandemic has been kind of a boost for you as well?

Well, yes, there has been a massive reach for us. Let me put it this way, it has been a catalyst. So, what may have happened a year later has happened a year earlier. See, what happens is when you’re involved in work or you’re going to the office, you think there is a schedule. But when you’re sitting at home and you’ve watched every new thing that has come on OTT platforms and your child is playing a game, you would like to join.

What according to you should be the role of an esports marketer catering to the Indian market?

Esports marketer is a combination of a conflict manager and a community manager. You should provide the right brand solutions and ensure that you speak regularly with your consumers. My audience has very less tolerance level but I will say that their tolerance for inefficiency is very low. They could judge you as inefficient so you have to ensure that you put out the right content every time.

Do you see more brands coming into the Indian esports ecosystem in the next one year? 

I see that if a brand is not a part of this yet, they will inevitably be curious about it.

How is the market in terms of languages, the regional ones?

Our viewership in Hindi far exceeds English. It is no longer an elitist game and that’s why there has been an upsurge in Hindi shoutcasting as well. We have started getting branches from our service providers that we need to put out content in other languages. So, we are now branching out in other languages like Hindi and Tamil as well.

How do you tackle the challenges for the stakeholders of the industry?

I am extremely proud to tell you that our teams are evolved and evolving a lot. They have very smart mechanisms and knack to ensure that such problems are not created. We have ensured that we value a particular rule. As I mentioned, there is a lack of standardisation. So, every time it brings in new challenges, we are learning and evolving. We craft a smart enough solution and we solve it first. We try to solve them before things get out of hand. To answer your question, there is a standardisation issue but most of it is often smoothened out by our teams.

Taking everything into account, the pandemic, user count increasing, participation, more deals for everybody, where do you see Indian esports in the next two years?

The industry is evolving so quickly that we are trying to catch our breath. Inevitably right now, the digital content space is taking up a major percentage of the nation’s content consumption. I have a feeling that the percentage right now that is esports occupied is going to double or triple go higher in the following year. The viewership, which is perhaps right now huge, will only grow. Live streaming something is yet to be recognised by a lot of marketers and is something we need to engage with.

(The article is sourced from https://www.animationxpress.com

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