Comparing LEC Partners: Endemic vs Nonendemic Sponsors

Riot Games and Lagardere were extremely busy selling brands during the League of Legends offseason. Six sponsorships were announced prior to the highly anticipated return of the newly franchised and rebranded League of Legends European Championship. Alongside endemic partners, new partnerships were launched with Kia Motors, Shell, and Foot Locker EU (i.e. nonendemic brands looking to appeal the esports audience).

At FanAI, we took this as an opportunity to examine the differences in social overlap data between sponsors that are endemic and nonendemic to esports.

As might be expected, brands promoting products specifically to gamers had a much larger overlap with the LEC brands, players, and talent prior to the start of the LEC. On average, Alienware, Logitech G, and DXRacer EU had on average 100K followers in common with the LEC Universe. In contrast, the nonendemic brands averaged 3.5K followers in common, despite similarly sized followings.

The gap between endemic and nonendemic brand affinity in this case is massive, nearly a 30X difference. However, this result isn’t unexpected. These partnerships between Riot’s LEC and these new nonendemic sponsors have only just begun.

So what can we learn from this?

Fans tend to follow brands if corporations produce content targeting their interests.

Let’s take Arby’s as an example. Unlike the newest LEC sponsors, Arby’s regularly posts gaming and anime fanart made from their to-go packaging. While the chain restaurant does not currently sponsor any esports, they did sponsor January’s Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) speedrunning marathon.

Sponsorships like these have wider benefits. Despite sponsoring not related to the LEC, Arby’s shares more followers with the LEC than the league’s nonendemic sponsors. Specifically, Arby’s has 18.4K fans or 2.2% of their followers in common with the LEC, more than 5x the average of the league’s newest nonendemic sponsors.

Sponsored content with the LEC is an excellent first step to reaching the benchmark set by endemic esports brands. Should Kia Motors, Shell, and Foot Locker EU leverage the LEC content they sponsored on their own handles, they are more likely to reap the benefits of attention from esports fans.