Reaping the digital dividend? Sport marketing's move into esports: Insights from Germany

Kilian Kramer, David Wagner, Barbara Scheck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyses the role of esports for sponsors and sport clubs in the context of their marketing activities. We start by positioning esports in the domain of sport technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Then, we examine foundations of the esports industry, including an analysis of the most relevant stakeholders in the ecosystem, and outline potential links to digital marketing. We interviewed nine experts, representing distinct sport clubs, sponsors and consulting agencies from Germany, with the aim of generating specific knowledge about characteristics of sponsoring and marketing operations in the gaming industry, including reasons for entry, choosing relevant marketing channels and implementation approaches. Additionally, we examine measures of success, prevailing risks as well as future perspectives of the industry. In writing this paper, we contribute to a better understanding of the nascent field of esports, specifically from a digital marketing perspective. A central contribution of the study is the illustration of esports' value for sport marketers, while shedding light on how digital marketing potential can be leveraged on an operational level. Based on our findings, we present several recommendations for sport marketing managers to jump-start their esports engagement and provide an agenda for future research at the intersection of sport management and digital marketing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-366
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Journal of International Management
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Competitive gaming
  • Content marketing
  • Digital marketing
  • Digital sports
  • Esports ecosystem
  • Esports industry
  • Marketing activation
  • Sport clubs
  • Sport entrepreneurship
  • Sport innovation
  • Sport marketing
  • Sport sponsoring
  • Sport technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Education
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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