Turner Broadcasting has launched a new league in partnership with WME | IMG to bring the extremely popular competitive first-person shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to your television. This is the first huge agreement of its kind, and a big development for competitive gaming.
As the Daily Dot reports, the league will bring in the top talent from around the globe to participate in two 10-week seasons. The event will be broadcast on TBS, and will feature companion programming such as player features, docs on gaming history, and digital content that will be available via the Bleacher Report app.
The currently unnamed league is currently planned launch in 2016.
This isn’t the first time that sports gaming has made its way to mainstream television, as ESPN2 has aired a collegiate “Heroes of the Dorm” tournament in the past on ESPN2, which brought dismal ratings – although the companies had success with online streaming on ESPN3. But with a planned league, and bringing in the World’s top talent, this is a great start. It’s a smart way to build an audience, instead of just randomly airing a one-off tournament.
While some might scoff at the idea of watching other people play video games, Esports has grown to become extremely popular, especially since the Amazon-owned online-streaming site Twitch has made watching them easier than ever. YouTube even launched YouTube Gaming last month to compete with the popular gaming service. According to market research firm Newzoo in a piece published on ESPN.com, 205 million people watched or played Esports in 2014.
“Esports is one of the fastest growing entertainment genres among young adults around the world,” said Turner Sports president Lenny Daniels. “We’re looking forward to creating a tremendous live event atmosphere, leveraging the infrastructure and expertise within Turner Studios, and presenting the competitions in an innovative way throughout our portfolio of leading brands.”
The audience, however skeptical you may be about the product, should be there. I fully expect other big networks to eventually follow in suit.