ESPAT TV and Screenvision Media to bring video games to the movies
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ESPAT TV announced a partnership with movie theater and sporting event advertising firm Screenvision Media in an effort “to produce and distribute its content across Screenvision’s in-cinema and SV Sports networks,” according to the partnership’s press release on Nov. 4.

The partnership will see ESPAT creating a “content pipeline” for gaming content, primarily trailers for AAA releases to be shown in theaters and at sporting events during ad rolls. At the moment, a specific publisher or developer has not been revealed. Screenvision boasts running advertisements for 40% of the theaters in the United States and over 150 school athletic programs, as well as NASCAR, The American Hockey League and the New York Mets.

“It’s clear that Screenvision offers a captivating space that will build connections for all types of video game publishers, studios and esports tournament organizers,” Dante Simpson, chief executive officer at ESPAT TV, said in a press release.

The business move, according to Screenvision Media EVP of National Ad Sales Christine Martino, is to connect with 18 to 34 year olds. This is the age range that makes up a large portion of moviegoers heading back to theaters as they open up again and as more releases hit screens regularly.

“They are more tech savvy and an elusive consumer that is often hard to reach through typical media,” Martino said.

The game trailers will also be tailored to the genre of movie the advertisement is playing in front of. For example, like typical movie trailers, there would be an adventure game before an adventure movie or a horror game ahead of a horror movie. According to Martino, these game trailers, packaged by ESPAT TV, will not add to the pre-movie ad time.

Both companies expressed high hopes for the future of movie-going as cinematic releases return to normalcy, pointing towards the recent Labor Day weekend showing that broke records at the box office thanks to a robust slate of releases. This includes Marvel Studios’ “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

“We are very confident in the return of moviegoers and have been tracking them all year,” John Partilla, Screenvision Media’s CEO, said. “In a recent study we did as a joint effort with [National CineMedia], we found that 90% of our frequent moviegoers (who attend movies about once per month) have already returned to the theater this year and the same percentage plan on attending films before the end of the year.”

Movie studios under the HBO and Disney umbrella have also stopped same-day movie releases on streaming platforms, along with their theatrical releases this year. Both companies have said they are moving toward a 45-day exclusivity window going into 2022, so fans will have to return to cinemas to see new releases moving forward.

As for esports trailers for new titles, or tournament organizers, Simpson told the Sports Business Journal that this partnership could include those companies in the future but that it is “admittedly a ways off.”

The deal itself has been months in the making, according to Simpson, and it started with the goal of genuinely connecting ESPAT TV with its target audience.

“There was uncertainty of the future of the theater industry in 2020,” Simpson said when asked about how the partnership talks lined up with theaters opening back up after 2020. “After theaters opened, it was clear fans and theater-goers were awaiting its return, and engaging the massive gaming community was a priority and we couldn’t be more proud to make this priority a reality.”

Movie goers should soon see this partnership come to theaters, as new content and potential Oscar releases should hit projectors during the rest of the fourth fiscal quarter in line with holidays.

“Our goal is not shortsighted, but rather to create a new norm. To replicate the feeling a moviegoer has, when they’ve viewed a memorable trailer which they can’t forget, even upon leaving the theater. To have that enthusiasm toward a gaming trailer would be a success for us,” Simpson said.

Declan is an esports journalist and part-time editor for Upcomer. He is an avid gamer and League of Legends player. You can find him at the bottom of the leaderboard in most games or on Twitter.