Honda was named the official car sponsor of professional esports squad Team Liquid, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer. The carmaker's sponsorship is part of a partnership with Team Liquid and Twitch, Amazon's streaming service for video game spectators.
The carmaker will bring the team to the upcoming League of Legends Championship Series in a customized Honda Odyssey minivan, and provide a fleet of Team Liquid-branded Civics for their use during training. Honda, whose branding will be featured on Team Liquid's jerseys, will support the team's participation in global and domestic tournaments.
Additionally, Honda is producing a six-part video series titled "Level Up," sponsoring charity tournaments and hosting Ask Me Anything (AMA) events on Reddit.
Honda's sponsorship of Team Liquid is the carmaker's latest campaign targeting esports fans. It also sponsored the Honda eSports Championship in Thailand last year, and in 2016 partnered with Red Bull and Twitch to host a gaming tournament for Hearthstone, the digital collectible card game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The esports push is likely a way for the car brand to deepen its relationship with millennial and Gen Z consumers who have show major interest in the gaming competitions. Honda's Civic model ranks number one with these younger consumers, according to a statement, suggesting that it's working to further attract these age cohorts.
Honda is not alone among carmakers that have targeted younger consumers by sponsoring esports teams and events. Audi this month signed a three-year deal with Danish esports company RFRSH Entertainment to sponsor Origen, a professional League of Legends team. Alfa Romeo, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche, Renault, Subaru and Toyota also have sponsored esports teams or events in recent years, per esports news site Dexerto.
Esports revenue was forecast to grow more than 38% to $906 million in 2018 from a year earlier, as brands plan to invest $694 million in the budding industry, Newzoo research found. Newzoo expects esports revenues to reach $1.7 billion by 2021 as the global audience grows to about 307 million viewers. Marketers continue to explore how to capture this loyal audience.
The partnership also brings Honda to the Twitch platform. The Amazon-owned game-streaming site has an average of 15 million daily active users, a number that rivals top cable networks. Viewership has jumped 51% to 45 billion minutes a month in 2018 from a year earlier, and the number of individual broadcasters has jumped 61% to 3.2 million, according to Twitch data.