Over the years, the field of eSports – competition amongst gamers on a grander scale – has grown exponentially. Major companies have begun to take notice of this, with all sorts of big names, including Coke and other advertisers, {link no longer active}  getting involved. Even (a)listdaily has been getting more and more into eSports coverage, with our own John Gaudiosi covering it on a regular basis.

Tournaments like this also draw big-time money, like Activision with Call of Duty {link no longer active} and Valve with its yearly DOTA 2-driven International event {link no longer active}. But now, it looks like more publishers are getting involved, finally realizing the value of eSports.

Digiday recently posted a story discussing ESPN’s further involvement with eSports, following its successful broadcast of the Heroes of the Dorm tournament a few weeks back. The channel’s publication, ESPN The Magazine, recently devoted an issue to eSports, featuring profiles of popular YouTube star PewDiePie and League of Legends player Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. (Traditional athletes also talk about their gaming preferences, including NBA superstar Kevin Durant.)

“eSports is way past cult status at this point – if it’s not already the dominant cultural force of the moment, it’s pretty close to it,” said ESPN The Magazine senior editor Megan Greenwell.

Sports outlets have been skeptical of these competitions in the past, with ESPN’s president John Skipper simply noting that “it’s not a sport.” But the numbers don’t lie. The League of Legends Season 3 World Championship managed to draw over 32 million people online back in 2013 – a number that easily eclipses the 18.8 million that tuned in to game two of this year’s NBA Finals. And streaming channel Twitch has benefitted greatly from such tournaments, with a subscriber count of over 100 million people monthly – and climbing.

It’s just a matter of covering eSports the right way – something The Daily Dot learned when it shifted in that direction back in late 2013. “When you’re covering eSports, the core thing you have to think about is who are you writing for,” said Kevin Morris, reporter for the site. “If you’re a mainstream publication, you need to make stories accessible, but making them accessible also means watering them down, which alienates the hardcore audience.”

ESPN had dabbled in eSports before, with broadcasts from Valve’s International tournaments, but its approach left a few viewers dumbfounded, as they weren’t used to what eSports had to offer. “Just like there’s still a bias in society towards gamers as basement-dwelling nerds, there’s still a bias with ESPN’s audience against competitive gaming,” said Morris. “But it’s a silly argument because ESPN also broadcasts spelling bees and poker.”

The Daily Dot is one of the sites truly devoted to full eSports coverage, with nearly 30-50 stories weekly that cover everything from game highlights to player trades. This manages to bring the site’s viewership to 1.5-2.5 million unique page views on a monthly basis.

It recently launched Leaderboard, a new eSports discussion show that works in a similar vibe to ESPN’s SportsCenter, where Rooster Teeth talent, like Meg Turney, discuss eSports events in a very casual setting – which audiences can easily get into. The latest episode is available below.

 

At least there’s always a place to watch eSports action – and that’s a good thing for the fans.

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