News UK – owner of The Sun newspaper – has signed a seven-figure deal to become the biggest sponsor of UK eSports company Gfinity.
The two-year contract will see The Sun newspaper become Official Partner of the Gfinity Championship Series and title sponsor of the UK Championship Series during the 2015-2016 period.
Both parties are also working together on the development of an e-commerce platform, through which they intend to sell eSports (competitive PC and video gaming)-related merchandise.
News UK will also get a suite of rights including broadcast advertising, in-game branding, digital advertising, venue branding, content and direct marketing. Gfinity says the partnership package will establish The Sun as the biggest supporter of eSports in the UK.
Readers of The Sun will get priority access to tickets and exclusive access to feature footage and interviews from Gfinity events.
News UK and Gfinity will also work together to identify and support the UK’s most promising eSports teams, while also developing a national structure linking grassroots eSports gamers to big competitions and help promising players succeed.
News UK will also use its proven expertise in engaging audiences to develop Gfinity’s online advertising programme.
The deal is the first such major media agreement signed by Gfinity and will enable the company to grow its Gfinity Championships, which runs annually from March to September at the UK’s first eSports arena at Vue Fulham Broadway.
The agreement with The Sun, which was facilitated by Pitch International, signals the growing popularity of eSports in the UK.
Neville Upton, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gfinity, said: “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.”
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."