The owner of national tabloid The Sun has made its first move into the pro-gaming sector by backing eSports organisation Gfinity for the next two years.
The collaboration with News UK and Ireland Ltd marks the first major media deal for Gfinity, and is said to have enabled the firm to expand its annual eSports tournament, the Gfinity Championships.
The event is held from March to September at the Gfinity Arena in Vue cinema, Fulham Broadway.
The two-year contract will see The Sun become the official partner of the Gfinity Championship Series for 2015-2016, as well as title sponsor of the UK Championship Series for 2015-2016.
News UK will be granted access to broadcast advertising, in-game branding, digital advertising, venue branding, content, and direct marketing.
In addition, Sun readers will get priority access to tickets and exclusive footage and interviews from Gfinity events.
Both companies are also said to be working together on the creation of an e-commerce platform, which will be dedicated to selling eSports-related merchandise.
Gfinity said that the partnership indicates the growing presence of eSports in the UK, and will lead to an increase in audience figures, the creation of new revenue streams and an investment in establishing the next generation of professional gamers.
It added that the move means that The Sun is now ‘the biggest supporter of eSports in the UK’.
“This is not a simple sponsorship agreement but a strategic partnership that will enable both parties to improve, develop and grow the UK’s evolving eSports sector,” explained Neville Upton, Gfinity co-founder and CEO.
“News UK’s faith in Gfinity is testament to the exceptional quality of product we already have on offer. The backing of such a large organisation is not only great news for us but also a huge boost to the UK’s burgeoning eSports sector.”
Mike Darcey, CEO of News UK, added: “Through our new partnership with Gfinity, we are proud to have become the first newspaper group to break into the expanding eSports market.
“Producing world-class journalism is at the heart of what News UK does, but as part of our business development strategy we actively seek out opportunities to reach new audiences through different media.
“We now look forward to uncovering new commercial opportunities and relationships in this exciting new sector.”