BBC Sport will be covering the upcoming CSGO Blast Premier Series. The remainder of the 2020 season will be broadcast on the BBC iPlayer.
The BBC coverage will kick off on Tuesday, November 24th with the broadcast of the launch of the Blast Premier Fall Showdown. The event runs from the 24th until the 29th and will feature top-tier CSGO teams from across Europe and North America. This will be followed by the BLAST Premier Fall Final which runs from December 8th to 13th and the BBC will close out their coverage of the Blast events by broadcasting the BLAST Premier Global Final in January of next year.
If you live outside of the UK, the events will still be streaming on Twitch and YouTube. In fact, even if you live in the UK and do not currently own a TV licence, the games can still be accessed through via free online streams.
Esports at the BBC
The BBC is one of the latest streaming partners to sign up with Blast. They announce that the reason for partnering with the tournament organiser was the success of their previous esports broadcasts. In June of this year, the BBC broadcast coverage of the UK League Championship and Northern League of Legends Championship as a way to fill in the gaps of live sports coverage that was lost due to the pandemic. They have not released any official viewing figures but if they have decided to sign up for another esports broadcast it is safe to say that it must have been successful.
VP of distribution and programming for Blast, Alexander Lewin, said:
“The BBC is admired around the world for its standard of excellence, and its digital platforms provide the perfect destination for Blast Premier’s fans based in the United Kingdom to watch the world’s best Counter-Strike players go head-to-head.”
It is clear that, despite the issues with Brexit, the UK is still an important market for Blast. They have offices in London and held the Blast Premier Spring Series there if February of this year. For UK fans, they have also extended an invitation to the UK based esports organisation Endpoint. Endpoint Esports have recently broke into the top 30 CSGO teams in the world making them the first UK team to do so.
Esports and the licence fee
This recent focus by the BBC on esports and streaming seems to be a direct result of the financial issues that they are currently facing. More and more young people are not consuming content via terrestrial television. In the UK if you want to use a TV to access broadcast channels or stream via iPlayer you have to pay an annual TV licence of £157.50. As viewing habits change and the younger generation begin to watch more content online, many are questioning whether or not they should pay the fee to watch TV. The move to broadcast esports looks to be an attempt to bring back in a younger audience.
Despite whatever motives the BBC have to broadcast the sport, it will certainly bring a large audience to the series. The upcoming tournament will be one to watch. With teams like Ninjas in Pyjamas, Complexity, MIBR, Evil Geniuses, FaZe Clan, and underdogs Endpoint competing it will be a hard fought series.