ESL is ready to launch a 24/7 eSports channel next month called eSports TV, which will cover a variety of video game events and tournaments. Beginning with a roll-out in the Nordic and Baltic countries before heading West, it will no doubt be a major outlet for fans who can’t get enough of eSports-related events.
To get more insight in terms of what we can expect from eSports TV, [a]listdaily chatted with Nik Adams, senior vice president of sales for ESL, discussing topics from social media interaction to its eventual launch into other regions.
What led to the decision of introducing a 24-hour eSports channel?
For ESL, the eSports channel is another distribution channel of our existing content. We’ve produced about 20,000 hours of original content in 2016, so there definitely is enough material to fill the channel. Our challenge is to curate it so it is appealing for the new audiences on TV, whilst our main goal is to create completely fresh and original content with the entry barrier low enough for those who just start getting into this amazing new sport.
What will be the basis of eSports TV? Will we see original programming and shows to go along with the competition coverage?
The base content will be the broadcasts of our core events and tournaments, as this is our main business that delivers the most interesting output. Our competitions and offline events in the ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters, and ESL Pro League circuits will take a big chunk of space. From there—and around these core products—we will start building original content. Longtime fans of eSports will be happy to know that eSports TV will also have a section with classic content from the past 15 years—ESL’s archive of premium eSports materials is huge and it’s waiting to be put to a good use.
As eSports TV develops and grows, what would you say is the biggest hurdle in getting the right partners on board?
The feedback from the market was incredible so far—even better than we expected, and we’re getting signals from regions that are very keen on getting ESL’s premium eSports content. It makes it that much easier when you consider that ESL is a global company with offices in all important regions: North America and all important European markets, but also places like Brazil, Australia, Singapore, China, Russia and India. The plan is to (together with MTG) gradually roll out the channel into new territories. MTG brings decades of TV experience to the table, which makes them the perfect partner for us, but ESL also runs its own licensing department and we are very well connected in the space.
Is social media interaction with the channel being considered?
This is something we’re very enthusiastic about, and we’re working on several ideas that will enable an easy, more natural viewer interaction. Things like second screen applications, for example, could be put into a great use at eSports TV. ESL is a company that’s constantly looking for new ways to connect with its core audience, so things like that are definitely on our radar. Right now, it’s all work in progress so I can not share too much about it just yet.
Will programming from livestreaming events online eventually make their way to the channel?
Livestreaming content will make its way to be a part of eSports TV for sure, and there are a million ways in which the content from our events can be utilized for something more original we’re planning to build around our core products. We’re definitely very excited to try them all out and continue to deliver the world’s top eSports content around-the-clock, online and on TV. But the most exciting thing about eSports TV is that it’s a channel that will enable us to show our content to a completely new audience—not the one that already follows us online, but one that perhaps hasn’t cut the cord yet, or simply has a preference for more linear forms of broadcast. We’re already reaching over 100 million of eSports fans, but the ones we’re going to connect with through eSports TV will be largely new to us and our offering. This provides a massive amount of opportunities for us to create and distribute content that’s completely new, exiting and appealing to that new segment of audience.