- Anheuser-Busch has filed trademarks for the phrases " The Official Beer of Esports," "The Official Beer of Gamers" and "The Official Beer of Gaming" with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), according to a report in Esports Observer.
- The beer giant is looking "to leverage the fractured nature of the space to try to own it for the company," said Nick Kelly, head of U.S. Marketing at A-B InBev in a report on Sports Business Daily.
- Budweiser currently has a partnership with the Overwatch League, while Bud Light has a deal with Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns Wizards District Gaming.
Esports is surging in popularity, and many brands are trying to get in on the action. Hershey, AT&T, Axe and other big brands have esports sponsorships. Now, the trademark application hints at Anheuser-Busch's intentions to become the official beer of esports and gaming — similar to the beer brands' sponsorships of traditional sports like basketball or football.
Budweiser has already made inroads in the esports space with its partnerships with Overwatch League and Monumental Sports. Similarly, Bud Light teamed with esports last year on the Bud Light All-Stars program in which the brand celebrated athletes and influencers from different gaming genres, according to a report on Medium.
It's a natural extension for beer brands to get into esports. Beverage companies spend millions at sporting events and on big games like the Super Bowl and March Madness but, with millennials — a key demographic for beer brands — showing less interest in traditional sports, these marketers are looking to new areas where they can engage consumers and try to drive sales, which have been declining for the beer category. Miller Lite is now the exclusive alcoholic beverage of esports organization Complexity Gaming, the group co-owned by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that sponsors players and teams.
Esports ad revenue is expected to exceed $200 million by 2020, according to eMarketer's first forecast for esports and gaming revenue, with digital ad revenue hitting $178.1 million, a 25% increase. The ad spend is being generated by a spike in viewership. This year, 30.3 million people in the U.S. are expected to watch an esports event at least once a month, up 18% since last year. Esports viewership is expected to grow more than 50% through 2023, reaching 46.2 million viewers. The total esports audience will reach 380 million this year — a growth rate of 14% year-over-year, according to NJ Games.