2017 eSports TV Programming Grows 4X


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.



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.




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




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.

Spanish Broadcaster Mediapro Buys eSports League LVP


Mediapro Buys Major Stake In eSports League LVP (Photo: Mediapro)

TNL Take: Just follow the money and everything get's easier to understand.

We've seen the stampede of traditional Sports investment into eSports.

Followed by more activity via Financial companies.

What started with Turner's E LEAGUE, Media companies are now following suit. After last week's French acquisition of ESWC (Electronic Sports World Cup) by Media Publisher Webedia, now comes Spanish Broadcaster Mediapro's controlling share in Spain's biggest eSports League, LVP (Liga de VideoJuegos Profesional).

A few interesting tidbits about the investment and Spain's eSports scene:


Fandroid's Gamergy Event In Spain (Photo: Gamergy)

Fandroid was set up in 2009 by a few ex-AV professionals and created Spain's initial eSports broadcasting platform. In 2011, the first national Finals hit 10,000 Unique Viewers, increasing to 300,000 for the most recent Event in 2016.

As always, be careful of Unique Viewers without Average Concurrent Viewers.

Fandroid also launched Gamergy, the biggest eSports event in Spain, in 2014 which now attracts a stunning 30,000 participants twice a year. 

Finally, Fandroid manages Spains eSports League (LVP), which has 250,000 Registered Players, and more importantly, also owns the broadcasting rights in Spain and for the Spanish-speaking market to the major international League of Legends competitions.



With 15 million gamers, Spain ranks fourth in the EU, each playing - not watching - an average of 6.2 hours per week.

Spain's eSports Market has a whopping 74% penetration rate among those under 24.



Mediapro Group (Photo: Mediapro Group)

Mediapro made a fun video - sorry, Spanish - about why they acquired Fandroid/LVP.

Ill break it down anyway - Just like with the traditional Sports teams or previous Media company eSports investments, the value of the investment comes from helping the acquired company with the following:

Sports Rights + Production + Resources + Sponsorship + Marketing + Content


How many times have I talked about the need for content in eSports?


The space is starting to get really fun.

eSports Scripted TV Series Finishes Production


(Photo: BeActive)

TNL Take: Portuguese company BeActive recently finished production on a scripted eSports TV show.

The show follows a European team on their way to the League of Legends EU Finals. Although with (8) twelve minute episodes it's primarily a digital product with 48 and 90 minute versions being cut for TV.

I've said for a while that eSports is missing the "Vice of eSports" and if someone doesn't do it - Vice will.

I'm trying not to judge a book by its cover but hoping the show is not as terrible as the promo pic.

The Live/Play documentary that Riot made last year is still a high water mark for eSports storytelling for me and It's worth the 40 minutes of your time.


Just tell your boss it's for work.