Twitter has partnered with ESL and DreamHack to livestream eSports events and original content in 2017. More than 15 events in the ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) and DreamHack circuits will be livestreamed globally on Twitter. The first ESL livestreamed event occurred this past weekend with IEM Katowice and DreamHack Austin in April will follow.
ESL will also produce live original content for Twitter, including a weekly 30-minute show featuring highlights and behind-the-scenes footage. The live content on Twitter, which is set to begin on March 4, will be available globally at esl.twitter.com, iem.twitter.com, and dreamhack.twitter.com. The livestreams will also include advertising packages with TV-style ad spots combined with original highlight and recap clips that advertisers can sponsor and promote on Twitter.
The first ESL eSports show will debut this week with IEM Katowice with CS:GO being the focus, according to Johannes Schiefer, vice president of social media and editorial at ESL. He talks to [a]listdaily about what Twitter opens up for eSports in this exclusive interview.
Twitter currently works with traditional sports leagues to livestream games. What’s unique about eSports and social media?
The one thing that eSports has that differentiates it from sports is that there is a huge media world around sports with 24-hour channels and sports sections of newspapers. That doesn’t exist for eSports, so when people want to read about what’s going on, get the latest updates or discuss them, they go to social media. That’s where the traffic is around eSports.
A lot of that information is in the social digital space, and the conversation around eSports is particularly heavy on Twitter. All the big players are on Twitter. Every team is on Twitter. The amount of interaction, engagement and story development that takes place on Twitter is disproportionately large in eSports when compared to sports. So bringing the actual content to Twitter so that you can watch it where that conversation is taking place only makes sense.
How has ESL’s relationship evolved over the years?
We’ve been working with Twitter for quite a while. Twitter’s been featured in our shows and we’ve even had the Twitter mirror selfie booth that you’ve seen at the Golden Globes or the Oscars at our events. We’ve been slowly working with them over time to increase what we do. We use Twitter as part of our storytelling. We have all these instant highlights, and when something happens in the stream, two minutes later it’s on Twitter and on our channels. That’s something that we’ve been building with them together over the last two-and-a-half years, and this is just the next step.
What does Twitter open up for this show that will be unique?
You can tie the conversational part of engaging the actual audience with the show much better on Twitter. If you take a hashtag and ask fans to submit things and be part of the show—that’s a huge opportunity that really only exists there. We have this also in our actual broadcasts, where we ask fans to join the conversation @IEM, and people are tweeting in and then suddenly your tweet appears in the show or the caster reads the tweet and laughs about it.
What will be the focus of the Twitter show debut?
It’s probably going to be quite Counter-Strike heavy, simply because the amount of Counter-Strike content that we produce takes up the largest space. That doesn’t mean it won’t hit other games. It’s a product that’s going to evolve to see how it resonates with the community. But at least in the beginning, there’s going to be a lot of CS:GO.
Is the show going to be designed for a live interaction with the community?
It’s definitely where I would want to take it, yes. It’s not a finalized, and I don’t think anything in the show needs to be set in stone right now. I’m generally not a big fan of that kind of stuff anyway. But it’s important that, when designing any kind of entertainment content, you’re taking your distribution channels into account when you’re conceptualizing the product. Live interaction doesn’t necessarily need to happen during that show. We can have segments like Top Match and Top Highlights of the Week, where people can tweet in throughout the entire week for the chance to be in the show. Using the Twitter platform directly to build the content for the show is the unique opportunity there.
ESL runs multiple events and tournaments. Will the show cover all of them?
Yes. It allows us to cover all of our events and tournaments and then theoretically take any new games that come up and bring them into this because, at its core, it’s an eSports show. It’s not going to be a CS:GO show.
Moving forward is there a possibility that you have enough content to support two shows? One focusing on CS:GO while the other follows another game?
That would be my goal, yes. We’re not there at the regular produced eSports content yet, but it’s still early days and our goal should be to move into that direction.
In general, there’s not necessarily a lot of crossover with fans of different eSports games, right?
The challenge of making an eSports show is huge because there are very few eSports fans per se that are just eSports fans and will consume any type of eSports content. They exist, but most fans follow a particular game. It’s difficult to just have a generalist eSports show. But we’re trying to build compelling narratives around different games, different products and then package them so that people regardless of what game they’re watching can somehow still enjoy that concept.
Is there anything unique that you see from a sponsorship standpoint that Twitter and your livestreamed show opens up?
Because you’re reaching different or broader audiences, you’re able to integrate in different ways. One of the interesting things about eSports—in how teams and players and leagues have approached it—is that there’s a high amount of conversation and engagement with the fans, and that’s something that many sponsors are extremely interested in because we can integrate the sponsors into the conversation very easily. It’s not just about putting your logo on a wall.
Gillette a great example of a brand that has just come into the space and they’ve been really active in how they’ve approached this partnership. During the League weekend, you had all of the teams and all of the casters tweeting out pictures of their custom razors because Gillette went the distance and every player had a custom razor with his name on it.
All the fans here are running around with the razors and their social accounts have been interacting with ours, and they’re just really activating. I love what they’ve been doing and this is exactly what is so great also about eSports, because we’re so open to that and the players are so open to that, and building this entire engagement if the sponsors are capable of doing it.
This is something that wouldn’t happen with traditional sports?
Yeah. But that’s the great thing. If the brand is willing to speak that language, they will have that engagement with that audience. Gillette managed to build a lot of goodwill towards themselves by just going out and saying, “Hey look, we made you all custom razors.” And they’re tweeting them out and they’re loving the razors.