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Esports Fandom Research Initiative 

The Marketing Analytics Center at Emory University and the Influential Analytics Lab are teaming up with the Skillshot Media division of Hi-Rez Studios to study consumer behavior and fandom in the rapidly growing esports sector.  In 2017 Interactive Entertainment such as mobile gaming and esports generated over $100 billion in global revenues. 

Esports provides exciting new opportunities for business and researchers.  Game producers, media companies and sponsors have numerous challenges and opportunities in the esports space.  In particular, there are significant questions about how the excitement and passion surrounding esports events translates to business success for producers, media, and sponsors. 

A major initiative of the Emory Marketing Analytics Center has been the study of fandom in categories ranging from sports to politics.  Gaming and esports provide exciting new opportunities to study fandom.  The digital nature of this type of programming and its consumption provides research with unprecedented opportunities to study casual consumers and obsessed fans.

The purpose of the Esports Fandom Research partnership is to study how the consumption of esports fosters consumer interest in participating in actual gaming.  The partnership provides data and access to multiple Ph.D. students.  Emory researchers apply cutting-edge analytic techniques informed by sophisticated psychological theories to study consumer behavior in gaming and esports.        

The Marketing Analytics Center at Emory University connects the academic, business and student communities interested in the analysis of consumers.  Professor Mike Lewis directs the Marketing Analytics Center and conducts academic research through the Influential Analytics Lab.  One broad stream of research special initiative Professor Lewis’ research program focused on fandom.      

The Research Program

The partnership between Skillshot and Emory is focused on creating innovative and meaningful research projects related to esports and gaming.  The core of these projects is an emphasis on the consumer.  Simply put, the goal is to understand how the interactive nature of these entertainment products creates a new type of engagement or fandom.  The research program is relevant to the world beyond gaming.  Technology and cultural trends all point towards a future where industries ranging from education to fitness all include digital delivery and gamification systems based on behavioral decision-making theories.

The Projects:

  • Investigating the Interplay between Watching and Participation: Interactive entertainment such as gaming provides opportunities for both active and passive consumption. Traditionally consumers have interacted with games by being active players. This active play has expanded in scope and scale and can now cross cultures and continents. More recently, we have seen the growth of esports as a category where fans participate by watching high-level competitors compete against each other. This competition can be consumed in a traditional arena setting or via streaming services.

  • Investigating Consumer Behavior in the Video Game Industry: Gaming applications often feature a variety of dynamic incentive schemes and social community structures that can greatly influence consumer behavior. Current research projects are investigating how gamification systems such as rewards, leveling up and earning community status increase consumer preferences and purchasing.


Knowledge Creation and Content Delivery:

In addition to the Esports Initiative, Professor Lewis and his graduate students have an active research program focused on traditional sports and fandom.  Past and current research projects have examined diverse issues ranging from competitive balance, mascots, star power and player analytics.  Professor Lewis and his research team create and distribute knowledge through a variety of traditional and innovation channels.   





Team Novo Nordisk/Emory Marketing Analytics Center Partnership

Students involved with Emory University's Marketing Analytics Center are teaming up with Team Novo Nordisk, the world's first all diabetes professional cycling team for a research project. MBA and PhD students will be analyzing Team Novo Nordisk's social media data to help encourage empowerment and engagement through posts.

fandom research advisory board

Jay Busbee

Sports Writer

Yahoo Sports

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David Elgin

VP of Analytics

Atlanta Hawks

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Ricardo Fort

Head of Global Partnerships

The Coca Cola Company

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Eric Gutierrez

Chief Marketing Officer

PlayOn! Sports

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Todd Harris


Skillshot Media

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Mallom Liggon

Director of Strategy & Insights

Turner Sports

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Scott Doyne

SVP, Data Strategy & Insights

Turner Sports

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Liz Randall

VP of Business Operations & Transformation

MotorTrend Group

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Vince Thompson

Founder / Chairman / CEO


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Justin Watkins

Sr. Director of Business Intelligence

Atlanta Braves

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