Diversification is the way that the most lucrative professional sports franchises maintain that status, and the NFL’s most valuable franchise, the Dallas Cowboys, appear to be on the leading edge of that interest.
Dallas may soon become the first National Football League franchise to purchase an eSports team, thus investing in a growing product and putting itself on better financial footing.
George Siefo of Advertisingage.com reported that Matt O’Neill, the Cowboys’ senior vice president of brand marketing, told him that making a foray into eSports makes “so much sense” and the potential for profit makes it a “no-brainer.” Dallas has hired the advertising agency Epsilon to help ascertain when and which team to purchase. In an interesting anecdote, O’Neill’s brother Scott is the CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia is currently the only North American professional sports franchise which owns an eSports team.
This would be the third professional sports entity in the state of Texas to venture into eSports. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is part of a group that has invested in Unikrn, a platform that allows fans to bet on eSports competitions. The Houston Rockets have hired a front office executive whose job it is to investigate how the franchise can invest in eSports.
The assessment of the O’Neill brothers on the eSports industry appears to be accurate. Newzoo has estimated that the final revenue figure from eSports in 2016 will be $493 million, an increase of seven percent from 2015. Newzoo further prognosticates that eSports revenue should cross the billion-dollar threshold within two years.
This news comes in concert with a league initiative into competitive gaming, which has taken the form of a league-sponsored Madden NFL 17 tournament. The Cowboys aren’t one of the eight teams hosting tournaments this off-season, but it could do that and much more in the future.
Owning a team could be the first step for the franchise into eSports and act as a mechanism to grease the wheels for deeper involvement. AT&T Stadium could become a popular venue for eSports competitions, and the Cowboys could use all of their existing marketing infrastructure to market not only the team or teams that they purchase but the leagues they play in as well.
The potential for growth of the eSports team or teams that Dallas would potentially purchase seems high, and the better those teams perform, the more profit that the Cowboys would see from their investment. The win-win potential of this situation makes it, as O’Neill said, a “no-brainer.”