TBS To Start eSports League Coverage In Early 2016
ESports have come a long way from the ridicule imposed upon it by ESPN broadcasters/personalities and other shows like HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumble. Despite the shade, the entertainment industry cannot overlook the immense viewership appeal of the gaming phenomenon.
Recently, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (also known as TBS on cable outlets) and WME | IMG have formed a new partnership to bring eSports to cable in a big way in 2016. The coverage will be in the form of live competitive gaming events airing on TBS as well as digital event coverage. The whole Turner broadcasting family includes channels like TNT and truTV.
During this first ‘season’, game publisher Valve’s long standing hit Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will be the featured game around which Turner Sports will organize, cover, arrange ad sales and sponsorship opportunities. The season will feature 10 consecutive weeks of programming twice per year. During those weeks, Friday nights on TBS will feature live TV coverage of the competition as well as daily live content airing digitally. This digital content will also feature coverage via Bleacher Report’s Team Stream App, behind the scenes footage, profiles on the teams and competitors, and more.
As the Geekswagg crew has discussed with Angelina Montanez of TechWeLike.com, the eSports popularity amongst the gaming community has grown to a world wide audience. This fast growing audience is bringing in a new kind of viewership totaling upwards of 226 million according to data provided by NewZoo. For the gamers that are involved in the eSports craze, this kind of news is expected as word of custom built eSports arenas, eSports college scholarships, and pro leagues like MLG.com are becoming more common place.
The selection of Counter-Strike as the first go-to game to televise is interesting as well. Given the eSports community has larger tournaments for MOBA’s and fighting games, fans will be hungry for news of upcoming seasons if this one performs as well as many think that it might. Counter-Strike holds that tactical shooter excitement that probably translates into an easier ‘casual fan’ viewing experience than MOBA’s do (which can be a bit confusing to watch at times).
Even more interesting will be who Turner Sports and their partners turn to as sportscasters. WME | IMG more than likely already has a group of people that they’ve used in other events that will probably helm the effort, but I imagine they’ll also look to recruit some celeb status names in the ‘geek’ community to draw in casual fans. Whether that line of thinking works or not remains to be seen.
We’ll definitely hear and see more in the coming months about this epic partnership.