2017 eSports TV Programming Grows 4X

2017: ESPORTS TV PROGRAMMING GROWS 4X IN Q1

eSports TV Programming Grows 4X In 2017 (Graphic: Christopher Reath)

As we near the end of the first quarter of 2017, let’s take a look at what’s happened with eSports across the TV landscape.

 

PROGRAMMING

TNL Infographic 029: 2017 TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

Clearly the biggest change between 2016 and 2017 is the increase in programming. Whereas Q1 2016 had just 2, Q1 2017 will have 9 events on TV.

Naturally we also saw an increase in TV Networks as well with 2 in 2016 and 5 in 2017, with the biggest being the first eSports program on ESPN’s flagship channel.

 

RATINGS

 

Last week, I covered how eSports isn’t even close to traditional sports TV ratings yet, so no need to rehash that. However, even with a much smaller audience, there’s some interesting data:

  • Not surprising that the ELEAGUE Major was #1 but I'm very interested to see how their first Street Fighter event performs.  Considering that another Fighting game - Mortal Kombat - was the highest rated show for 2016, I'm bullish on the genre

 

  • Sports titles dominated Q1 with 7 of the 9 programs – granted there were some Tape Delays and Replays

 

  • EA's FIFA also performed well. The Miami regionals had more than double the audience of last years FIFA Interactive World Cup Finals - 96,000 vs. 41,000

 

MEDIA DEALS

 

I've said that I believe that one of eSports big themes for 2017 will be media rights and distribution.  The partnerships continue to flow.

 

January: The Big 10 Network agreed to a deal with Riot Games to host a League of Legends season spanning 2 months with 12 schools like Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin participating (The Big 10 Network is a joint venture between the Big 10 Conference and Fox Entertainment Group).

 

ESPN Brazil Launches 3 eSports Shows (Photo: ESPN)

February: ESPN Brazil announced 3 new weekly eSports TV shows as well as multiple game championships.  The shows consist of:

  • Multiplayer: An eSports "simulator"
  • Match Making:  Friday news show covering the Brazilian eSports scene and interviews with Pros
  • Arena eSports: Saturday show focused on global eSports

ESPN Brazil also has a deal with ESL to broadcast part of the Brazil Premier League. The agreement will bring 200 hours of programming.

 

GINX eSports TV Expands To MENA (Photo: GINX eSports TV)

GINX eSports TV is now in the MENA (Middle East/North Africa) region via partnership with the OSN network. GINX eSports TV becomes the area's 1st 24-hour dedicated gaming channel.

GINX eSports TV is now 40+ countries, 9 languages and 36 million homes.

2017: eSports, TV and Broadcast Rights

2017: eSports, TV and Broadcast Rights

2017: eSports, TV and Broadcast Rights (Graphic: Julian Burford)

TNL Take: Go ahead and file this away till December but mark my words:

In 2017, eSports TV, broadcast rights and exclusivities will see big growth.

Yesterday we looked the 1st national eSports TV broadcast of the year with ELEAGUE's Counter-Strike Major.

There's been a lot more news over the past 6 weeks.

 

ESL PARTNERS WITH FORMER FOX SPORTS CREATOR

ESL was on a tear in 2016...

... and 2017 is not slowing them down.

Yesterday, ESL announced a partnership with former creator of Fox Sports David Hill to launch "eSports by Hill" to provide premium broadcast experiences to eSports.

Hill is a Fox veteran having created Fox Sports and regional Sports networks as well as being responsible for the 1st Down yellow line in NFL broadcasts (Win) and the glowing Hockey puck (Fail). Hill also co-produced the 88th Academy Awards and was the executive producer on “The X Factor” and “American Idol.”

While some have commented that Hill was also responsible for the train wreck that was the Championship Gaming Series, that may have also been a case for CGS being too early having launched a decade ago.

Will be interesting to see what Hill brings to ESL in terms of production and casters.

 

YOUTUBE GAMING GETS EXCLUSIVE ENGLISH RIGHTS TO ESL'S COUNTER-STRIKE LEAGUE

ESL's Counter-Strike Pro League (Photo: ESL)

I told you, ESL is not slowing down.

YouTube Gaming get's Exclusive English broadcast rights for ESL's Counter-Strike Pro League for Seasons 5 and 6.

ESL's Pro League features 28 of the top NA and EU Counter-Strike teams battling for a $1M prize pool per season with the Season 5 Finals held at the Verizon Theatre in Dallas in June. 

 

GINX ESPORTS TV BRINGS ESPORTS TITLES TO TV

GINX eSports TV's "The First Hour" (Photo: GINX eSports TV)

GINX eSports TV, the UK based 24/7 eSports cable and satellite channel, announced that their "The First Hour" show would feature an eSports twist for the new season.

Hosts Adam Savage and Anthony Richardson will chart their first hour of gameplay with AAA releases along with familiar eSports titles and Athletes in the space.

These type of "Let's Play" shows have performed well for YouTuber's but the jury is still our on how this works within eSports. Playing a new game for an hour vs. a popular eSports title are 2 very different things.

 

FETCH TV LAUNCHES AUSTRALIA'S FIRST 24 HOUR ESPORTS CHANNEL

Australia's Fetch TV To Launch 24/7 eSports Channel (Photo: Fetch TV)

UK based GINX eSports TV launched in Q4 of 2016 and is already distributed in 40+ countries worldwide.

Now Australia wants in on the action.

Aussie IP-based broadcaster Fetch TV announced the launch of Malaysian-based eGG (Every Good Game) on its platform earlier this month with the first broadcast being the Dota 2 Boston Major which featured 3 Australian eSports Athletes.

In addition to international eSports tournaments, eGG will also feature shows based around gaming culture, reviews, events and talk shows.

 

ESL AND SPANISH BROADCASTER MOVISTAR JOIN FORCES

ESL Partners With Spanish Broadcaster Movistar (Photo: Movistar)

Spanish telco company Movistar, owned by parent company Telefonica Espana, announced a partnership with ESL to push eSports further in Spain.

The deal is made up of several parts:

  • Movistar and ESL will bring more sponsored amateur and professional competitions with eSports games like  Counter-Strike and League of Legends (the Spanish ESL National Championship previously existed)

  • The company announced their own eSports club Movistar Riders, which will have teams in 5 games - although that seems like a conflict?

  • Movistar will also launch an eSports TV channel to broadcast Spanish eSports events, as well as 13 global events in 2017

  • Additional eSports content will be produced in the new Movistar Gaming Center, which will also act as the physical headquarters for Movistar Riders

     

 

Only 1 month down in 2017 and eSports is growing even more quickly than 2016.

Ginx eSports TV Gets $4M From UK's Sky and ITV

GINX ESPORTS TV GETS $4M FROM UK'S SKY AND ITV

Call of Duty World League on Ginx eSports TV (Photo: Ginx)

TNL Take: Just a week after British based Sky TV invested $1M in Drone Racing League; both Sky TV and ITV are increasing their bet on the "next-generation of Sports" with a combined $4M investment into 24/7 eSports Channel Ginx TV.

Ginx TV currently has content from Activision (Call of Duty World League), Valve (E LEAGUE, ECS, The International) and Blizzard (Overwatch) - with I'm sure a lot more announcements on the way.

Ginx TV is currently distributed in 14M homes in the UK and Ireland and an additional 23M homes globally although I wasn't able to find the per country distribution.

Ill keep beating the same drum however:

The need for good eSports content will continue to increase