FaZe Clan, the esports team owner and content powerhouse known for its gaming content, is looking to dominate a new arena – football.
The gaming company is taking its popular YouTube series “1ON1” – a show hosted by FaZe clan member Donald De La Haye AKA FaZe Deestroying in which talented running backs and wide receivers go head-to-head (and uh, one-on-one, of course) for a shot at $10,000 – on the road during this year’s NFL preseason.
The competition is open to the general public and anyone can register to take part at an upcoming preseason home game. In a statement released June 28, FaZe Clan CEO Lee Trink said the new show is an attempt by the NFL to reach a new, younger audience. “Our partnership with the NFL embodies how FaZe and our talent deliver engaging content with established brands in new ways providing experiences that actually matter to Gen Z,” Trink said.
Each side has an advantage in this deal. FaZe, though it might not be well-known to people above the age of 25 in some areas of the country, has a huge hold on the Gen Z market—but it’s struggling to squeeze money out of a core demographic with limited buying power.
The NFL’s core audience, however, are older and definitely have disposable income. The NFL also knows it's got an age problem: the average viewer is around 50 years old, and as its fan base ages, the league has been trying for years to appeal to a younger, hipper crowd.
Though FaZe Clan recently went public, it still isn’t profitable. Brand exposure and likely, ad revenue from broadcasts of “1ON1” could be a much-needed boost. Today FaZe’s stock was up nearly 11% to $14.60 per share. Despite a shaky start to trading after its $725 million SPAC merger cleared, FaZe’s stock continues to trend vertically, up over 37% since going public July 20.
FaZe and the NFL first struck a merchandising deal in 2019. The collab also sponsored a flag football game earlier this year during the Super Bowl LVI weekend. They even got Snoop Dogg to rock a FaZe chain during the show—clever branding on their part.
Despite starting as a group of “Call of Duty” players making YouTube content and having deep roots in gaming, FaZe’s focus on sports and being active isn’t new. Back in 2019 Richard “Banks” Bengston, one of the organization’s founders and co-owners, told the New York Times’ Taylor Lorenz he wanted to push back on the outdated myth that all gamers are overweight basement dwellers, noting “we aren’t shy, antisocial quote unquote weird kids that are out of shape, don’t play sports.”
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