Six weeks of esports content
Thanks to a partnership between the BBC and the UK-based esports company Gfinity, extensive esports coverage is coming to BBC Three. The first round of Gfinity’s Elite League Series will feature tournaments in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League, and Street Fighter V. The events will see roughly 160 gamers compete for a prize pool of £225,000.
The BBC-Gfinity deal also includes broadcasts of exclusive editorial content from the Gfinity tournament in West London. While this will be a BBC outlet’s first time broadcasting multiple weeks of esports content, the BBC has dipped its toe in esports before. In 2015, BBC Sport broadcasted the League of Legends World Championships live.
As for the upcoming schedule, Street Fighter V fans can tune in for the next six Fridays at 9 p.m. Those who prefer to watch CS:GO can follow the tournament on Saturdays between 9 and 11 p.m. And Rocket League lovers should mark their calendars for Sundays at 5 p.m.
BBC going for the esports demographic
BBC Three is the network’s channel focusing on viewers between ages 16 and 34, where esports fit perfectly. The channel was initially part of the BBC’s television offerings, but was moved online after a £100 million budget cut across the company. Despite the online-only access, some analysts are confident that bringing esports to the table is a great idea.
“It’s correct to engage with the types of content that are really resonating with younger viewers, and esports is growing in popularity,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, a director and games analyst at the analytics company IHS. “Yes, YouTube and Twitch have scale but the BBC touches on a wider audience, which could bring new viewers. It would be a bigger risk if it was being shown on terrestrial TV, but this is online, so it’s an opportunity to test whether it will work.”
Gfinity is the perfect esports partner
In choosing Gfinity, the BBC has patterned with a strong player in the esports industry. Founded in 2012, the company has established itself as a noteworthy tournament organizer, esports events host, and tournament broadcaster. Thanks to its online platform, the company can serve fans from all over the world.
To bring its Elite Series to a broader audience, Gfinity has also recently struck a deal with the television network Eleven Sports. Its group of channels focuses on sports content in seven international markets, including the United States and Taiwan. The partnership stipulates live coverage of Gfinity’s Elite Series and includes preview and recap content.
“We are very excited to work with Eleven Sports,” said Gfinity CEO Neville Upton. “They are an excellent partner to deliver top quality broadcasting to almost 80 million pay TV households on top of their OTT subscribers in the key markets where esports matters the most.”
On top of its new partnerships, the esports company has also acquired some new brass. By bringing former X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent production executive Mark Brittain on board, Gfinity is showing that it’s in for the long haul.
Esports poised for massive growth by 2020
The BBC, in line with many other organizations, is betting on esports’ ascendence and staying power. The British media giant said it expects esports to generate more than £1 billion in global revenue by 2020. Moreover, according to the company, esports’ total audience should double by 2020 and reach close to 600 million people.
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