ESL North America announced that it is continuing the partnership it established with AT&T (NYSE: T) last year. This renewed partnership will allow AT&T to offer new services at events while extending the ESL Mobile Open league that was established in March 2019. The event features amateur esports competitors who take to big stages at major events such as ESL One and DreamHack.

According to a press release, “ESL Mobile Open’s inaugural Season One attracted more than 135,000 participants and reached an audience of more than 5 million through social media, influencers and live broadcasts. Seasons Two and Three will expand to include all of North America, with live finals at ESL One New York and DreamHack Atlanta.”

ESL’s partnership with AT&T

ESL first partnered with AT&T in 2018 to provide improved in-person and online experiences for esports audiences. In the past year, AT&T became an integral telecommunications and mobile gaming partner, taking part in ESL North America’s biggest events such as the E3 ESL Arena, ESL One New York, and Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) North America.

Although telecommunications is technically considered non-endemic to gaming, it’s a critical component to how fans interact with esports content, such as livestreamed video and chat.

Upcoming events include ESL One New York and IEM Chicago, which will be enhanced with “unparalleled access” and a host of new features that include:

  • Best Seats in the House: A premium viewing area will be provided to deliver an enhanced experience for select AT&T customers onsite.
  • AT&T Signing Session and Fast Pass: Fans will be able to meet their favorite players at a designated AT&T signing area while earning a “fast pass” to skip the meet-and-greet lines.
  • Fan Early Access: Select AT&T customers can enter events doors open to the public for a sneak peek at the main stage.
  • Event App: An event app presented by AT&T will be available for IEM Chicago and ESL One New York so that fans can to stay up to date on the competition, partner activation schedule, latest event news, along with other challenges and activities.

Only AT&T customers will be eligible for these features.

Telecom companies have become increasingly involved in the esports space in recent years, with T Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) backing the New York Excelsior in Overwatch League, while Sprint (NYSE: S) became part of ELeague in 2017. These events are ideal locations to engage with potential customers, and all three telecom stocks have done well this year. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint are up 18%, 25%, and 21%, respectively in 2019.

ESL driven by Gamer Fuel

News of ESL and AT&T’s extended partnership comes days after the esports organization announced that it struck a deal with PepsiCo (NASDAQ: PEP), naming Mtn Dew Amp Gamer Fuel as the official beverage for all ESL events around the world through 2020.

The deal officially starts at the IEM Chicago Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and will continue at other events. As part of the partnership, ESL broadcasts will include a segment called “MTN DEW AMP GAME FUEL Power Plays” that will analyze plays at pro league tournaments.

“We have a deep-rooted, collaborative relationship with Mountain Dew and adding Mtn Dew Amp Game Fuel, a drink designed for gaming, as our official global beverage partner is a natural fit,” said Paul Brewer, ESL North America senior vice president of brand partnerships, in a statement. “Building on our joint success, product integration and custom content will create new ways for us to engage fans all over the world.”

ESL and Mountain Dew began their partnership in 2016 by launching the Mountain Dew League for CS:GO, awarding more than $500,000 to amateur teams to date. Mtn Dew Amp Game Fuel is also a sponsor for the Call of Duty World League in addition to professional esports teams such as OpTic Gaming, Immortals, Dignitas, and SK Gaming.

In its quarterly earnings report, PepsiCo specifically named the Mountain Dew brand and its association with gaming as a key source of revenue while sales of sugary drinks continued to decline.

ESL is owned by the Modern Times Group (MTG; STO: MTG-B) which recently announced that its VC fund was investing $11 million into esports and gaming startups.

Steven Wong
Steven has covered the video game industry for over a decade, including development, marketing, and emerging technologies. He has written for companies and publications such as AOL, AListDaily, and more.

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