Overtime is buying Fortnite esports team Evade for an undisclosed fee in a bid to grow the company’s fan base for gaming content while also earning revenue.
The acquisition is the latest in a series of moves by the network to expand its reach into gaming.
“We’ve always been interested in gaming as a vertical from day one,” Overtime CEO Dan Porter said. “This move is about developing scale. We want to be the top gaming organization around content in the U.S. and globally.”
The digital sports network launched Team Overtime, its in-house esports team, for Fortnite in 2018. In December, Overtime also announced the formation of Overtime2K, now known as OvertimeTW, made up of a group of five creators – or streamers – that broadcast themselves playing NBA 2K to introduce more content to basketball fans around the franchise.
Now, the company’s broader esports vertical, the teams, and the content creators will all operate under the name Overtime Gaming. The Team Overtime and Evade brands will no longer exist. OvertimeTW will also operate as a subsidiary of Overtime Gaming, which will be run by former Evade owner Hantao Yuan.
Overtime’s acquisition of Evade makes a lot of sense for the company as it delves further into the growing industry, according to Luke Scott, COO of Code Red, a U.K.-based esports consultancy and marketing agency. But it will not cause much of a stir within broader esports, he noted.
“It’s interesting by virtue of the fact that it’s Overtime,” Scott said. “In following Overtime’s creation business model, Fortnite is the place for it to be because it has a much younger audience. Evade is quite a logical pick up for them in that respect.”
Overtime will lean on the same principles that helped it succeed in basketball and football content to make Overtime Gaming a success. The company defines its gaming audience as teenagers with ambitions of playing esports professionally and older fans that enjoy streaming the content on YouTube and Twitch.
Performance in Fortnite competitions is important, according to the company. Still, the outlet wants to build stories around its players – similar to those of high school stars featured on its platform – to draw consumers in to boost viewership and revenue.
Overtime Gaming will distribute NBA 2K and Fortnite Content for the foreseeable future, the company said.
“It’s about getting to the point where you can make a difference for brand partners, move apparel and merchandise, and host a pop-up event and know that 1,000 people will pull up,” Porter said. “We’ve been successful with Overtime by creating our own sets of home-grown content. “We will look to execute like that on gaming as well with our players.”
Evade’s Fortnite esports team launched a little more than a year ago and has more than 600,000 followers online, including 204,000 on YouTube. The brand will now have access to a larger sales team and tens of millions of followers on social media under the Overtime umbrella, Yuan said.
“Team Overtime has existed for more than a year. That was Overtime getting its feet wet in the gaming space,” he said, “And now, the company wants to take a bigger swing.”
Overtime Gaming’s Fortnite team will look to recruit up-and-coming players with the additional goal of helping them become industry influencers. The team has eight members currently.
“There’s a lot of talented players out there that don’t have a lot of exposure and do not understand how it works on the business side,” said Yuan. “They have no experience as creators, just a love of the game. We want to help them turn it from a passion into a career.”