How Playfly Esports aims to revolutionize collegiate and high school esports

Declan Mclaughlin
Playfly Esports logo
Playfly Esports

Playfly Esports CEO Rob Johnson spoke to Dexerto about the company’s esports plans and how it wants to bring sustainability to the space.

On June 15, Playfly Sports, a sports marketing, media and technology company, announced that its collegiate esports subsidiary, CSL Esports, had become a new division within the company, rebranded as Playfly Esports.

It will focus on creating “revenue-driving opportunities” for brands within esports and the esports organizations themselves across amateur, collegiate and high school teams, according to the release.

In an interview with Dexerto, Rob Johnson spoke about how this move for the company is a play to help bring more stability to the esports industry.

In 2022, many esports organizations still rely on sponsorships and investor capital to keep the lights on. In 2021, Newzoo projected that 75% of the esports industry’s total market revenue for that year would come through media rights and sponsorships.

“Many of the orgs, whether they are EDU [education], amateur or pro, are really struggling to sell,” Johnson said. “And we found this is a problem the more and more we talk with people that are constantly raising money, and particularly in this atmosphere. It’s not going to be sustainable. So how can we help build the sponsorship arm using what we have?”

The answer seems to be expanding what Playfly was already doing within the esports space. The company ran CSL Esports and WorldGaming Network and collaborates with the National Association of Collegiate Esports and the North American arm of its collegiate league, NACE Starleague.

Playfly Esports has announced a range of different initiatives, all centered around assisting amateur esports organizations, colleges and high schools with brand marketing, content and media collaborations.

Playfly itself has many years of experience in doing the same with traditional sports: It has worked with the NBA, NFL, and MLB, and has acquired many media companies over the years to cater to its clients in the media sphere.

“Bringing what we’re doing here Playfly wide, focused on esports and gaming, connecting brands and many of the Fortune 500 brands to esports fans to the communities – that we’re able to serve here,” Johnson said about the expansion into esports. “That’s the new business and that’s how we’re trying to grow.”

Domestic and North American brands want to get in on esports

These big brands have been looking for a way to get into esports, according to Johnson, and with Playfly and its yet-to-be-announced partnerships with specific esports organizations, they now can.

“What we saw is that, domestically, it was very difficult for both United States-only brands and regional brands to even enter esports,” the Playfly CEO said.

Playfly Esports itself will act as an agency to connect teams with sponsors and advertisers, charging a fee for its services. For high school and college esports, Johnson said that the company is trying to help the institutions create a “financial backbone” and bring the equivalent of a sponsorship banner at a high school state championship to the fledgling esports education space.

With the backbone, teams may look to reinvest in other avenues, particularly brick-and-mortar venues for players to compete in or other esports initiatives, like school curriculums. The company can also help schools secure funds for those projects as well as assist with naming and image rights.

Johnson said that getting those deals set up is a long way out at the moment, and that it would require setting up sustainable systems on the business side first, but with Playfly’s size and experience, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Ultimately, Playfly Esports is looking to become a mainstay in the esports space at the amateur, collegiate and high school levels by creating sustainable business practices for organizations to fall back on in the media sphere.

Johnson said that Playfly hopes to overdeliver and continue to do business with orgs year in and year out as it brings more companies to the space.

“We want to continue to grow our efforts to get more people within the ecosystem and advertising network, so that we can help fund and give money back to …. And then make sure that we continue to grow here in a sustainable way,” Johnson said.