PARIS, June 7: Defending champions Germany will have the psychological advantage of going to the Russian World Cup finals sitting atop the FIFA rankings.The Germans are in good shape heading to Russia after their talismanic goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, a key player in their 2014 victory, returned to action after a long absence through injury.Neymar’s on-form five-time World Cup winners Brazil are second, multi-talented Belgium are third, Cristiano Ronaldo’s European champions Portugal fourth and Lionel Messi’s Argentina are fifth.British bookmakers would agree with the top two as they make Germany and Brazil joint World Cup favourites at odds of five to one followed by Spain, France and Argentina.World Cup host nation Russia meanwhile slide to 70th position after a seven-game winless streak. They kick off the tournament against Saudi Arabia on June 14. IANS
Activision Blizzard has today announced a partnership with Nielsen which will serve ‘to measure and value esports brand investments across the company’s multiple leagues and titles’. Nicole Pike, NielsenNielsen has had an esports arm since the summer of 2017; the company has published reports in the past twelve months making assessments and predictions of the esports ecosystem. This division is led by Nicole Pike, Managing Director and Head of Esports for Nielsen. She noted: “The esports market has so much potential, but is still undervalued by some in the marketplace. “We’re thrilled to be working closely with Activision Blizzard, who has taken initiative in leading the market forward.”Activision Blizzard’s most sizable esports franchise is of course the world’s most expensive esports league to be a part of; the Overwatch League. Big name sponsors have entered such as Jack in the Box, SOUR PATCH KIDS, T-Mobile and more and with franchise slots costing $20m (£13.9m) it’s clearly one which is crying out for some brand sponsorship evaluation as teams seek long term partners. The league is broadcast exclusively on twitch, and Nielsen will initially begin tracking it as well as Overwatch Contenders (essentially a second tier and feeder league for the OWL) , the Overwatch World Cup, and Activision’s Call of Duty® World League. There are ‘plans to expand to other programs in the coming year’. As part of the deal, Nielsen will ‘measure brand exposure in esports tournaments representing a variety of Activision Blizzard titles, event formats and geographic locations based on the same methodology that Nielsen uses to quantify value and benchmark performance for traditional sports rights holders and brands’.Pete Vlastelica, CEO of MLG commented: “As esports continues to mature and reach its potential as a stand-alone business, we’re determined to lead the way and develop best practices for brands and advertisers. We’re excited to partner with the most experienced and respected measurement service in Nielsen, and continue building on our foundation of the best esports leagues in the world.”Esports Insider says: This is a big name partner for Activision Blizzard and it’ll be fascinating to see what findings Nielsen come up with especially for the rather costly Overwatch League. The announcement of a Nielsen partnership less than a week after the SAP and Team Liquid is excellent news for the industry, but let’s not stop there – there’s plenty of room for more such companies.