Esports have quickly evolved from small competitions into massive events, filling stadiums around the world and broadcasting across the internet to millions of viewers. Any business would be smart to try and break into the advertising side of the esports game, but what about a company that many hardcore gamers may not view favorably? That’s when you have to do it the smart way.

Looking across gaming communities on sites like Twitter or reddit, Comcast and its XFINITY internet service aren’t particularly popular, especially with those in the esports world. That being said, esports couldn’t exist without the internet, so Comcast would be pretty foolish to ignore such a growing market. By partnering up with ESL (the world’s largest esports company) and the Evil Geniuses esports team, Comcast is looking to show how much value the company can provide to not only the team, but to all the fans as well.

“Comcast is not a brand in the gamer demo or on reddit that is favored by our audience. If we do some standard fare project where we put a logo on a jersey, that’s a huge disservice to us and the Comcast brand,” Paul Brewer of ESL told IBT. “What was really important is that we need to tell a message and a story about how they are providing real value to the team members and the organization. Then push this message out to the audience.”

Evil Geniuses, also sponsored by XFINITY, has also cleverly integrated the brand in ways that benefit the team and the team’s following. Kelby May, a representative for Evil Geniuses, mentioned the company has provided hardware, furniture and decorations to make the Evil Geniuses training facilities as nice as possible.

Halo_Living Room 2 A look inside the XFINITY training facilities Photo: Comcast

“They’re much more appealing locations for the guys to be in,” May said. “New furniture, new lighting, black-out blinds, all this stuff to make it really nice.”

Of course, it only makes sense that XFINITY would provide the most robust internet service available: the Gigabit Pro line. “With a gig line, no matter how much downloading or streaming is done, you can still provide a good streaming service,” May said. Seeing as how many Evil Geniuses players are also popular streamers, the best internet access is a must.

The Halo team especially needs high-quality services, seeing as how a number of official matches are done online. Seeing as how Halo requires players to connect to a server, the better the connection, the better performance a player will have. Evil Geniuses have even replicated a LAN environment in the training facility to ensure peak performance either at home or on a stage in front of thousands.

Halo_Gaming Room The Evil Geniuses Halo gaming room Photo: Comcast

As for the fans, the XFINITY partnership not only helps eliminate connectivity concerns, it also helping Evil Geniuses to promote themselves and esports in general. The company is funding a series of behind-the-scenes videos on the team to give fans a glimpse at what goes on in a pro gamer’s life. The Life of a Genius series has two episodes out already, and more are planned for the rest of the year.

All this brand awareness is actually paying off for Comcast. Matt Lederer, Comcast’s executive director of sports brand strategy, mentioned there is an increase in interest in the XFINITY services.

“Online gaming enthusiasts are 18 percent more likely to consider XFINITY than general market,” Lederer said. “Comcast experienced unprecedented growth for XFINITY internet/data customers in 2016, increasing by 330,000 – the best Q3 result in seven years.”

Halo Worlds_XFINITY Lounge The XFINITY lounge at a Halo tournament Photo: Comcast

Looking to the future, ESL, Evil Geniuses and Comcast are all optimistic about what’s coming. “ESL is running events all across the world almost every month,” Brewer said about what’s next for ESL. “Major championships for Counter Strike, Dota, in different regions throughout the world.” Brewer also thinks that games like Overwatch and Street Fighter V will only increase the number of events and number of fans watching.

With the lackluster performance the Halo team at Evil Geniuses has had lately, May knows there are some rocky times ahead. He mentioned there is likely to be a team-wide restructuring to get Evil Geniuses back to the top of the pack. Thanks to the attractive new training facilities, getting new talent shouldn’t be too difficult.

On the Comcast side, the company is more focused on the growth of esports in general. “The research firm Newzoo just released its third annual report, providing a detailed look at the industry’s economics and offering estimates for trends, viewers, participants, and revenue streams,” said Lederer. “They expect that the global esports audience will reach 385 million in 2017, with 191 million ‘enthusiasts’. The ever-growing interest and increasing momentum observed in esports is indicative of the opportunity at hand for us at Comcast.”

The lesson to be learned here is that Comcast isn’t looking to simply shove advertisements and logos down the throats of fans. With smart integration of services, XFINITY has shown that it can provide value not only in hosting events, but also in allowing more content to be made for fans. Will this change the reputation of Comcast amongst gamers? Only time will tell on that, but with how big esports are projected to grow in 2017, it feels like a strong possibility.

“It’s been good to grow with a brand like XFINITY,” said Brewer.

So what do you think? Are you excited to see what’s next for ESL and Evil Geniuses? Will you look into getting a gigabit connection for your own gaming? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.