AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner has all sorts of interesting implications for the sports world from growing synergies between AT&T and Time Warner’s sports branches (most notably Turner, undergoing plenty of its own change post-merger). And the latest example of that comes in esports, where the company is building off Turner’s established ELEAGUE brand, combining that with a WarnerBros game title, and having it all sponsored by AT&T Fiber internet. WarnerMedia announced Wednesday morning that they’re launching a Mortal Kombat 11 tournament series that will culminate with a July event in Austin at RTX (Rooster Teeth’s annual fan convention), one that ELEAGUE will broadcast live on Twitch and air highlights from later on TBS. Here’s more from the release:
WarnerMedia today announced plans for an unprecedented collaboration among its videogaming and esports-centric businesses that will allow fans to prove their Mortal Kombat 11 skills in a unique tournament series, run by ELEAGUE, for the newly-released title. Top-performing gamers will win cash prizes and trips to compete in front of scores of fans at RTX, July 5-7, in Austin, Texas, Rooster Teeth’s annual fan convention and Texas’s largest animation, gaming and comedy experience.
This multi-faceted initiative – the ELEAGUE x MK 11 Arena at RTX Austin presented by AT&T* Fiber – represents a first-of-its-kind deployment of WarnerMedia’s combined assets, platforms, brands and products across the videogaming and esports spaces, and will feature many of its fan-favorite content, event and game publishing brands and interests including:
· Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s recently-released Mortal Kombat 11, the latest game in NetherRealm Studios’ award-winning franchise.
· Live and packaged tournament coverage across the digital, social and television platforms of award-winning esports content and live event brand ELEAGUE.
· Original content from Otter Media’s Rooster Teeth, including Mortal Kombat 11 gameplay videos from Achievement Hunter and Funhaus, promoting the open online tournaments leading up to RTX.
· Tournament organization and administration via the Battlefy platform.
· Presenting sponsorship from AT&T Fiber, bringing gamers fiber fast speeds, starting with a 1000Mbps connection1, and low lag to run raids or scope out targets with a proven 99% reliable internet connection2.
When it comes to ELEAGUE, the actual content here will be live coverage of the Grand Final of the tournament on July 6, with that airing on ELEAGUE’s Twitch channel. There will also be a “one-hour packaged show highlighting the best moments from the Grand Final tournament” airing later this summer on TBS.
From a pure broadcasting point of view, this doesn’t seem quite as intensive as some of the previous ELEAGUE efforts. They’re not broadcasting matches live on TV, or doing reality/documentary features ahead of a competition. But this is interesting for the wider coordination across the AT&T/WarnerMedia empire, from the AT&T Fiber presenting sponsorship to the Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment title used to the coverage on ELEAGUE’s Twitch channel and TBS. And the variety of assets this company can bring to play on a single sports property has previously been discussed with things like “The Match.” So this kind of synergy is certainly worth noting, and how it goes may provide some insight into how AT&T plans to use these combined assets down the road.