India’s leading multiplex chain, INOX Leisure Ltd (INOX) and Esports Federation of India (ESFI) on Monday announced a first-of-its-kind partnership. The partnership will witness INOX providing a never-seen-before community viewing experience of esports tournaments on the big screens, for fans, and provide required exposure to take the game to next level across the country. As an exclusive cinema partner, INOX will host and promote ESFI tournaments across the country, which should help build awareness and popularize esports, besides offering world-class cinemas as esports and video gaming venues in cities all over India.
INOX has been intrinsically supporting Indian sports through various collaborations, with the most notable being their longstanding partnership with Indian Olympic Association (IOA). Now, with a goal to revolutionize the esports landscape in India, INOX and ESFI aim to take esports to the masses using INOX cinemas as venues for hosting esports tournaments, streaming live tournaments, and providing training opportunities, and offer a talent scouting platform for future global events. More importantly, the partnership would introduce esports enthusiasts to the thrill of a live stadium amidst cheers and applause, while they compete in esports events professionally.
Commenting on this association, Alok Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, INOX Leisure Limited, said, “We are thrilled to bring the action of esports to the cinemas of INOX in collaboration with Esports Federation of India who has been working relentlessly to grow Indian esports and together, make esports, a mainstream sporting activity in India. Our cinemas are present at highly urbane and youth-centric locations servicing the entertainment needs of a predominantly young population in an unmatched ambiance equipped with advanced cinema technology. We believe, this advantage, coupled with all our marketing capabilities, will help us popularise esports at a much faster pace in our country. With esports gaining global significance, there cannot be a better time for us to fulfill this responsibility. With this association, we will build more esports IPs and who knows with our initiatives we can unearth a Neeraj Chopra or Abhinav Bindra in esports for our country.”
Alongside Alok Tandon, Vinod Tiwari, President, Esports Federation of India & Director Olympic Council of Asia – NOC and International Relations, and Lokesh Suji, Director, Esports Federation of India & Vice President of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF) were present at the event along with India’s first and only esports medalists at the previous Asian Games 2018, Hearthstone player Tirth Mehta, who joined virtually from Bhuj.
“For any sport, the experience of watching esports tournaments on the big screen is enthralling and engaging. This is an opportunity that will help our esports teams and athletes to build and expand their fan base and create scope for more conversations around esports. ESFI is excited about this partnership, as this will also be a concrete step towards taking esports to the grassroots, inspiring people, and giving them a platform to showcase their talent. The exclusive partnership comes at a very right time when Asian Games is scheduled in the month of September and ESFI will soon launch “AESF’s Road to Asian Games” to select the national esports contingent of our country. This partnership will see both ESFI and INOX together nurturing and developing the Indian esports talent pool wherein ESFI will bring in more partners to further strengthen this objective and create a robust and thriving esports ecosystem,” said Vinod Tiwari, President, Esports Federation of India & Director, Olympic Council of Asia – NOC & International Relations.
As per the E&Y Report titled ‘Esports In India,’ published in June 2021, India currently has more than 1,50,000 professional esports players that have generated a viewership of 17 million people across 14 broadcast platforms, and the forecast is to have 1.5 million professional players with 85 million viewership from 20+ broadcasters by FY2025.
Tirth Mehta, India’s first and only esports medalist at the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta said, “I believe every sport needs to have good training facilities, awareness, popularity, and support to make it prosper, and ESFI’s partnership with INOX is a progressive step towards a brighter future. I am also confident that such partnerships will happen in the future too. I hope this partnership will inspire many esports athletes who have been working hard to represent India and win medals for the country.”
The association will enable INOX to engage and offer an enticing content proposition to the age bracket of 15-24 years by promoting this new age sport that has the potential to garner a huge fan base and is expected to reach ₹11 billion by FY2025 as per industry data. With growing scope for alternate content, INOX has been one of the pioneers in the movie business to propagate the screening of sporting content, major ones being the ICC World Cup events of 2019 and 2021. Through this partnership, INOX and ESFI will be jointly hosting city tournaments and build various esports IPs in order to intensify its growth, not just at elite, but also at the grass-root level. The objective will be to introduce the charm of gamers and gaming enthusiasts, across the country, to take part in online as well as in-cinema tournaments.
Donna Amo was a writer at Gutshot Magazine. She is a graduate from Sophia College of Women, Mumbai with a degree in English Literature. When this October born foodie is not writing content or poetry, she spends her time laughing at memes or watching series. Based out of Mizoram, she is drawn to all things nature and has a soft spot for puppies.
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