Coronavirus has unlocked the door to sports sims. As the pandemic left elite televised sports stalled on the grid, their virtual equivalents raced into pole position.
All-digital versions of sports including Formula 1, NASCAR, cycling and basketball gained huge followings during lockdown among audiences starved of live sport. Broadcasters otherwise forced to fill their schedules with reheated archives, began to air simulated events. ITV’s live coverage of the Virtual Grand National drew a peak audience of 4.8 million, 30 per cent of the overall TV audience.
Mainstream sports and esports have crossed over and Gfinity has led the charge. The esports company’s design and development of the F1 Esports Series won the ‘Best Use of Esports by a Sports Brand’ at the 2020 Sports Technology Awards. Now, the UK-based world beater plans to take virtual motorsport to the next level. Its ambition is nothing less than to redefine racing and it is doing so in tandem with Blackbird.
In June 2020, Gfinity joined forces with Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management (ADMM) to create the Global Racing Series (GRS). The first product from the GRS is the V10 R-League which was conceived and launched in record time under Covid-19 social distancing.
This new racing championship features some of the fastest professional simulation racing drivers in the world with a roster of teams from digital motorsport including Williams Esports, BWT Racing Point Esports Team, Porsche24 Redline, BMW Motorsport SIM Racing Team and JAESA Team Suzuki. They will duke it out head to head on virtual race tracks for a £100,000 prize pool.
“During the lockdown we have seen an unprecedented growth in interest in gaming. Thanks to our strategy and expertise, Gfinity was in the best possible position to engage with this new influx of gamers. We have grown our reach. Now it is time to deepen engagement.”
John Clarke, CEO, Gfinity
The format of the Gfinity V10 R-League is radical in that it is conceived for broadcast and digital consumption. The ability to rapidly log and clip game highlights from the V10 R-League’s live stream for super-fast distribution to social channels is critical to audience engagement in esports and doubly so to get fans onboard for the new launch.
Gfinity’s use of Blackbird’s cloud video editing is battle hardened. The team first adopted Blackbird to create highlights of the Gfinity Elite Series. Now Blackbird helped the esports pioneer switch to remote workflows without dropping a beat in its speed to market. Content is published from Blackbird to Twitch, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube within seconds for fans to enjoy. Emojis can be added by Gfinity’s marketing team and players tagged for further engagement and reach.
In a new world with an ever greater importance on remote production and reducing the number of crew required at our studios, Blackbird has once again been invaluable in supporting Gfinity achieve success with this event.
Michael Brown, Head of Broadcasting, Gfinity
Using Blackbird helped Gfinity register more than ten million combined users. Meanwhile its social channels also generated 31 million impressions. Monthly users of Gfinityesports.com rose from 5,652 in May 2019 to more than 6.31 million in April 2020, delivering more than 21 million page views in that month alone.
With the successful launch of V10 R-League, Gfinity is focussed on driving value from all its assets and this plays to Blackbird’s strengths.
“Tens of millions of gamers choose to engage with great Gfinity content each month,” said Clarke. “It is time to take this to the next level and maximise the monetisation potential which is significant and high margin.”
Blackbird is best-of-breed
Jon Hanford - Group CTO, Deltatre