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Beasley Broadcast Group believes its skills owning and operating local radio stations will transfer well to esports, so the company sees its purchase of the Houston Outlaws of the Overwatch League as a way to diversify its holdings and reach more young people.
“We’re focused on diversifying all [of] our holdings within Beasley, and we’re focused on esports because it gives us access to Gen Z and Gen Y,” said Caroline Beasley, CEO of the company. “For us, we’re looking at it in a similar fashion as what we do in our traditional business in radio, and that is connect with, and provide great content to, our audience.”
The company, based in Naples, Florida, owns 65 radio stations throughout the United States and is publicly traded on the NASDAQ exchange. It was announced as the buyer of the Outlaws last month. Immortals Gaming Club divested the Outlaws because it already owns the Los Angeles Valiant and only assumed ownership of the Outlaws as part of a broader acquisition of prior owner Infinite Esports & Entertainment. Overwatch League rules prevent a team owner from having stakes in two different franchises.
“In our traditional space, we provide great content and are able to go out and set up events — so we have event marketing experience to go out and sell to advertisers and establish deals with sponsors,” Beasley said. “We believe we can take this experience from our traditional space and use the same learnings and apply that to our esports team.”
Financial terms of the Outlaws deal were not disclosed. ESPN reported in July that an earlier offer for the team that fell through was for $40M USD, $30M in cash and securities and $10M in debt. Activision Blizzard’s original buy-in price for OWL franchises in 2017 was reported to be $20M.
Beasley Broadcast Group began exploring investments into esports 18 months ago. It started to make inroads into the space in fall 2018 by acquiring esports lifestyle radio show CheckpointXP, which now airs on 70 stations across the U.S. The company invested in the Team Renegades esports organization in April of this year. The company has also previously invested in other digital media ventures.
Beasley said the Outlaws deal “is a significant investment for us overall, though not material to the business of the company.” This is the company’s first property in Houston, and Beasley said it will invest in new hiring for the team.
She said the company has never considered moving the Outlaws because the team has a strong fan base in Houston. Backing up that notion, Outlaws jerseys were plentiful among those worn by fans at the OWL Grand Finals in Philadelphia in September.
Adams Stern is a staff writer for Sports Business Journal, where this article first appeared.
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