October 4, 2018
A letter from the Commissioner ~
SFL Nation! What a week of networking, collaborating and exploring the esports landscape. When me and my partners made the decision that attending the first Esports Business Summit, we went looking to accomplish three goals:
- Speak with networks, platforms and technologies who we believe our product can have a footing with its built-in audience and/or can help build an audience they are looking to cultivate.
- Speak with charitable efforts to help build our SFL Gives Back program outside of our community.
- Learn our space, hear what esports diehards say about our unique product and build lasting relationships and new communities who want to support each other.
I’ll go in order. First, our platforms. As a Twitch partner, we finally got a chance to meet face to face Nathan Lindberg, Director of Esports at Twitch and introduced ourselves as their newest partner. Any opportunity we get a chance to meet heads of companies that believe in us is valuable and I anticipate Twitch being a valuable platform for years to come. With so many emerging technologies and platforms, it’s important that we are very careful with our strategic efforts. Before making partnership official, we combed through a very lengthy contract to ensure that the SFL did not have to be exclusive, which it did not. Exclusivity is something we would consider with any partner, if it meant financial security to help better our community that supports it and secure its long-term viability.In pursuit of ultimate brand presence, the following are highlights from the most exciting conversations that took place:
- I spoke with a representative of Turner Sports esports division, which is responsible for the E-League, a revolutionary network esports platform. The response to the inclusiveness to our product, and the removal of the controller – which the league considers to be an entry hurdle into the esports space – was positive and inquisitive.
- I spoke with a representative of Fox Sports, who has just made heavy financial investments into esports and esports platforms and is in the process of restructuring its ownership in a variety of spaces after a deal made with Disney. It’s interest is to be more of a 50-50 esports/sports split with its esports platforms. With Fox, FS1, FS2, Foxsportsgo and new and emerging esports properties, Fox Sports is in a position of growth and content need that can resonate with its traditional sports audience – that was clear in our conversations.
- I spoke with the founder and CEO of Bitcentral, Fred Fourcher, who’s product allows live highlights to be cut and stitched seamlessly into social media packages and playlists without buffering or pre-roll ads using IBM’s Watson, allows for multiple broadcasts at a time to be integrated into company websites and allows for easier video editing and 24/7 network production. His interest in broadcasting a SFL playoff game was discussed – interest was certainly present and applications to positively fuel the SFL’s growth on social media could be revolutionary.
- I spoke with Barrick Prince, who specializes in intellectual property and rights for international media, from TV to the web, from distribution, production or license deals. His connections in the platform space – traditional TV and online streaming, domestic and international, have value. He believed the SFL has enough content to have staying power and that it could find a foothold on mid-level platforms.
In summary, there was a tremendous amount of work made to introduce our concept to network, platform and technology executives and to confirm its ability to scale. Our efforts to diversify our audience and find the largest platforms possible will continue.
Second, our charitable efforts. As a league that wants to give everyone the opportunity to be a star and give everyone an opportunity to be involved in an esports league without having to have the console, the game or know how to play competitively, we want to spread our efforts to many groups of people who are often unable to – whether permanently or temporarily – participate in communities of video game players in a meaningful and valuable way. Some of the stories from our community have inspired me and many others in the organization to make this a focal point of what we stand for and what we strive to be: dream-makers. The following are highlights from the most exciting conversations that took place:
- I spoke with executives from Gamers Outreach, a 501(c)(3) charity organization that provides recreation to children in hospitals through the power of video games and the gaming community and pitched a charity program in which kids in hospitals from the towns our teams play in get a chance to play on the field while they are in the hospital as part of our SFL Gives Back program, allowing teams to support their Gamers Outreach kids in unique ways on a platform only the SFL can deliver on. Gamers Outreach serves nearly half a million kids a year, and works with hospitals like Children’s Hospital Colorado, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Ride, Children’s Hospital of Nevada UMC and even works with the local-to-SFL-HQ Dallas VA Medical Center. The opportunity to connect kids with a group of teammates and supporters can be a blessing for life and the SFL intends to do anything we possibly can to make this happen for children and our community.
- I spoke with Curtis Strong, CEO of Strong Companies, who has deep connections to Wounded Warriors and other efforts to make veteran lives better. Strong is a huge believer in our goals to bring the SFL to military members who are deployed, that lose access to communities and have time constraints that don’t allow gamers within the military an outlet to connect; our goals to give former football players who served our country a chance to get back on the field and for veterans who have suffered lost limbs and other permanent physical injuries and mental hardships to reconnect in a competitive but friendly and inclusive environment that already has active-duty military and veteran leadership on our various teams.
Thirdly, the esports community response. We are a unique product, with a take on what esports can be and is, and pushes the boundaries of what that all means. I had the pleasure of speaking with RJ Mata and Kareek Best of the Miami Heat; Ben Paro, Account Manager of Simmons Essential Consumer Intelligence; Ann Hand, Chief Executive Officer and President of Super League Gaming; George Schneider, Partner of Attendee.com; David Ciemny of Red Rock Entertainment Services; Adam Honig and Garrett Miller of MVP Index; Mary McKay of Access Brand Management; Krisjanis Ozols of Printful; Wendy Wang of ESR 24/7 Esports Channel; Drew Lawton of Esports Integration; Todd Harris of Hi-Rez Studios and Mike Dedrick of Metta Sport.
I’d like to give special thanks to the CEO of Red Queen, Alex Gilbert, who spent a good length of time hearing what I had to say on our way out of the convention. Red Queen was one of five companies that got a chance to speak in front of investors during “The Beta Tank” – the Summit’s take on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank”. While we applied and did not get the opportunity to speak, Gilbert believed we should have been one of the five and the time spent with me greatly helped see how we could reach a whole new audience, just by some adjustments in the way we market. For the record, Red Queen Gaming makes it easy to create tools designed for video game players. We work directly with game developers to make their game data accessible to talented toolmakers, who use that data on our development suite to create fun, exciting tools for the player community, per their website. We hope to be mutually beneficial to each other one day as well.
So what does all this mean for the SFL star or aspiring star? Well, it means – and proves – that the SFL is willing to go great lengths to improve its product, its marketing, its efforts to legitimize and its efforts to shine the light on you and all the great things you can be and all the great people that you are – on and off the field.
I encourage you to continue this journey with us, whether you had a great season or not, whether your team makes the playoffs or not, whether you feel like you aren’t getting everything you want to get out of the SFL just yet. I say this everyday: ‘The best is yet to come’ – that isn’t just something to say, I truly, truly believe in that and wake up with a need to prove that every day. I look forward to providing further updates on any new partners or major deals that come – or do not come – from this summit. Thanks for always listening,