Playfly Sports CEO Looks to Help Colleges Find New Revenue Through Esports

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has left many colleges and universities looking for ways to fill the gaps in their revenue left by big sports events. Playfly Sports CEO Michael Schreiber is hoping to leverage his company’s latest acquisition, Collegiate StarLeague, to help colleges drive new revenue through esports.

For Schreiber, interest in collegiate esports began even before the pandemic placed a spotlight on the opportunity. “When you think about…what’s happening on college campuses, when I went to school the big entertainment category was movies,” he said. “Fifteen years ago it was starting to convert from movies to television originals…Now when you go to school, you’re hearing kids going back to the dorm not to watch a TV show or a movie, but to play a game.”

Because of this shift, Scheiber saw collegiate esports as a ripe environment. “So my goal was to find the player in the category that was successful, that we could bring into the overall college sports strategy that we’re building.” That search led to Canadian cinema chain Cineplex, and its esports properties Collegiate StarLeague and WorldGaming Network.

CSL has been operating collegiate esports tournaments for roughly a decade. The company operates a league in which 1,800 schools participate. All 55 schools within the Power Five conferences have some degree of esports activity through CSL. 

In addition to its league, Schreiber is looking to leverage CSL’s experience to provide services to schools aiming to set up their own esports programs. “We want to be in that position to support,” he said. “If you want to set up a varsity team we can help you. If you just want to learn about how to monetize esports we can help you…The belief is that the more partners we help in this space, the more of those partners long term are going to be our customers and want to help grow the business collectively.”

As the pandemic continues, Schreiber sees esports as a resilient category that has proven its ability to drive sponsorships and engagement. 

“Colleges are hurting right now…and we want to figure out ways to help them when it comes to their budgets.” 

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