Hulu is the latest Hollywood company to cater to esports fans. The digital network has partnered with ESL to produce four new esports series comprised of about 15 hours of content, including the video game talk show, Player v. Player; an Immortals CS:GO docu-series, Bootcamp; a weekly show focusing on a key esports topic, Defining Moments; and an hour-long recap show that follows big tournaments, ESL Replay.
Nik Adams, senior vice president of global media rights and distribution at ESL, told AListDaily that both Hulu’s and ESL’s audiences are digitally savvy and range younger than the age demographics of linear television, making Hulu the perfect platform for esports content.
According to Nielsen’s latest study, The Esports Playbook, esports fans already spend 3.5 hours per week watching digital or streaming content through services such as Hulu, so by creating esports content exclusively for this platform, Adams said ESL is bringing familiar material to a service that these esports fans are already watching.
Justin Rutsky, senior content acquisition manager at Hulu, told AListDaily that the company partnered with ESL because they understand the audience and what connects with them, and have a wealth of data to support it.
“As a digital-first platform, we are well positioned to introduce our subs to premium esports programming, which is truly digital-first content,” Rutsky said. “As the industry continues to grow, we believe esports fans are more likely to be watching content online or on SVOD platforms more than traditional linear networks.”
— ESL (@ESL) October 9, 2017
Rutsky said esports content provides a significant overlap with Hulu’s young male (18-34) audience, which comprises a strong share of its subscription base and watches adult-animation, comedy, superhero shows and anime on the platform.
“We hope to introduce new fans to esports with these shows by making it easier to access on Hulu, and show existing esports fans something they haven’t seen before, but will truly enjoy,” Rutsky explained.
With more non-endemic brands entering the esports ecosystem on a regular basis, including Coca-Cola, Buffalo Wild Wings, Geico, Nissan and Axe, new platforms like Turner’s ELeague and Disney XD’s esports block will offer more exposure to a traditional television audience.
“As esports become more mainstream on platforms like Hulu, non-endemic brands are more likely to feel comfortable with various forms of esports content and consider sponsorship,” Rutsky said.
Earlier this year, ESL signed deals with Twitter, Facebook and Disney. Adams said this latest deal with Hulu will continue to broaden the base of esports fans with new ways of developing original content that appeals to a more mass audience in an entirely new way.
“As the world’s biggest esports company, ESL knows the ins-and-outs of the esports landscape, from streaming to putting on the largest esports tournaments in the world,” Adams explained. “ESL is a natural fit for developing original content since we already have the infrastructure in place.”
ESL is producing all four of the original shows at its Burbank, California studio in close coordination with Hulu.
“Similar to that of traditional sports storytelling, ESL’s content includes behind-the-scenes esports storytelling, like getting to know key players, hearing opinions and perspectives of industry figures, and re-living memorable esports footprint moments,” Adams said. “Through a fly-on-the-wall, authentic viewing experience, the audience will uncover and deep dive into the journey and lives of the players beyond the competition itself, just as traditional sports would explore.”
Adams said ESL is looking to create content that appeals to a more mass audience with its shows. Player V. Player will focus on core esports fans, while ESL Replay and Bootcamp will provide storytelling geared more towards anyone who is interested in anything about esports. Defining Moments offers a middle ground for those wanting to learn more about the esports industry and its history.
All four shows will premiere on Hulu this fall.