Andbox, the New York City esports organization with teams in both the Call of Duty and Overwatch Leagues and now a new VALORANT squad, has added David Levy as a new investor and Chairman of the company’s advisory board. Levy, who was the former president at Turner and the driving force behind ELEAGUE has also seen stints as CEO for the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center.
Levy joins a list of investors for this Series B round of funding that includes some very recognizable names and companies. Companies such as Sterling Equities, Allen & Company, The Pohlad Companies, join individuals such as actor Michael B. Jordan, Adam Leibsohn (Co-Founder & COO of GIPHY), Chris Stang (Co-Founder & CEO of the Infatuation), Mike Sepso (Co-Founder & CEO of Vindex), Sundance diGiovanni (Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer of Vindex), Jeff Raider (Co-Founder & CEO of Harry’s), and Neil Blumenthal (Co-Founder & CEO of Warby Parker)
“David brings us tremendous experience in the entertainment and sports industries, and is extremely passionate about the things he gets involved in,” Farzam Kamel, Co-Founder and President of Andbox said. “His energy is truly contagious. He will be of immeasurable value to us as we build this business. We’re very fortunate to have him involved not just as an investor but in an active role leading our advisory board.”
Levy’s entrance into the esports space is an interesting one. Growing up a traditional sports fan with a love for hockey and basketball, it wasn’t until he walked into his then 19-year old son’s room back in 2015 that he got his first introduction to esports.
“Sometime in 2015 I knocked on his door — he was 19 at the time — and I walked in and he had his headphones on and his computer was facing the other way,” Levy said. “I tapped him on the shoulder and he jumped, making his headphones fall off. I’m looking at the screen asking, ‘What are you watching?’ He said he was watching Twitch.”
Levy’s son would go on to explain to his father that it was a Fortnite event he was viewing and that people do in fact watch others competing or playing video games just as Levy watches hockey. Levy was enthralled.
“I sat on his bed for the next 45 minutes, watching him interact with his headset on with his friends,” Levy recounted. “He was screaming and yelling just like regular sports fans at a basketball game. I went back to work the next day with my business development guys and I said, ‘Listen, I want to know everything about Twitch. I wanna know anything about this esport thing. And I want to know up and down.”
What Levy learned was that esports hit home on the “magic” demographic that all advertisers look for–the elusive 18 to 34-year olds. This is the group that has all but abandoned television who now consume media and entertainment through online services such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube.
“The interesting thing that I caught onto very quickly and why I was blown away with esports was the demographics,” Levy said. “As you can imagine — the elusive 18 to 34 year old — you can’t find them anywhere. They’ve literally abandoned television. My son, who’s now 24, had me get involved in this [esports] in a big, big way. The demographics excited me. Could I bring them back and if so how can I get them the diversity of the audience.”
In its 2020 Global Esports Market Report, Newzoo predicts that the esports fanbase will eclipse 495M, with 223M of those viewers considering themselves “esports enthusiasts.” Today, this would make esports the ninth most popular global sport just behind American baseball and in front of Rugby.
As the world and audiences become better connected, Levy believes there are four competitive entertainment properties that will supplant the rest.
“There are four global sports that are going to end up being dominant,” Levy said. “They’re pretty much dominant now, but they’re just going to end up really pulling away from the pack. Those are soccer, basketball, combat sports, and esports. And for me to be a part of it here in New York with Andbox, it’s amazing.”
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