Interview with Co Founder & CEO of OVO Mobile, Matt Jones
Matt is a notorious disruptor in the telco and broadcast industry and is on a mission to bring the best entertainment services to fans, including sport, music, lifestyle, travel and more through OVO Mobile.
OVO Mobiles broadcast platform, OVOPlay, has secured exclusive broadcast rights to the Australian Esports League (AEL) including the newly-created AEL University Cup, bringing together more than 20 universities across Australia to compete in three games: Dota 2, CS:GO and Rocket League.
We sat down with Matt, who is a guest speaker of our upcoming ‘Esports – No Bullshit Tour’ and asked him a few questions.
What drove OVO into esports?
Ovo is a media broadcaster, so our first principle was to acquire sporting rights across a whole range of sports and broadcast those rights on our platform. Anyone in the world can access our content with 90% of the content having global rights.
Underpinning that content, OVO is a mobile virtual network operator or MVNO as it is known in the industry. What we do for customers who might be massive fans of rugby, water polo or in this case esports, is if you buy a sim card from OVO and swop from another telco provider, not only do you get a great plan which is arguably one of the best plans in Australia, you get to watch all that sport on the Ovo app data free.
A lot of brands are now chasing esports because it is a very hard to reach demographic in traditional channels and interestingly the vast majority of our customers who buy our sim cards are right in that target demographic, they’re university students or young millennials if you like.
I’ve been a gamer for 20 years and so I understand the environment, the landscape, the platforms, the publishers and game titles, intrinsically it was always a place we were going to invest, it was just about finding the right partner.
What parallels can you draw between your work with esports and other niche sports industries?
The way we looked at esports is not that it’s necessarily new, but at its foundation, has very similar principles to a lot of other grass-roots sports, which is that it is very community oriented and the real audience is the players.
One of the unique things in my experience in gaming is you need to participate in it to some degree to really understand it and appreciate it. There is no way you can turn on Dota 2 on your TV and go wow that’s really entertaining; because you wouldn’t understand it.
The esports industry is hard to navigate, so how do brands go about entering the space?
I think that tragedy at the moment is, broadly speaking, the people that make decisions in brands i.e CMO’s, by in large right now are not the age or demographic that grew up gaming and so it is a very foreign place for them. So I feel like a lot of the decisions being made are in a ‘Gold Rush’ mentality where I’ve got to get in there or I’ll miss out
My advice to any brands is to really spend some time on education, whether that’s working with trusted advisory people or agencies that have real experience in this domain, because there is not one single entry point that is relevant for everyone.
One of the other major points to consider is that gamers have been in their own community for 20 years now where their not impacted by the constraints of other traditional channels like broadcast TV or print and one of the very important principles to understand is authenticity because they’re very quick to judge somebody that takes a very vanilla approach to interacting in the gaming environment.
What unique challenges are you experiencing in esports?
Ovo’s biggest challenge getting into esports is that we are distributing esports on a brand new platform, not on twitch. And that is huge because gamers on principle have used twitch for the last 5 years and they say its great so why would they go anywhere else.
Where to from here with OVO and esports?
I have a mission over the next 5 years to open up the perspective in the eyes of our consumers that there are other ways to get awesome gaming competition than just expecting it all to be on twitch and my challenge is how do I create an experience as good as and probably better than twitch for the university audience that might be watching our broadcast AEL University Cup.