The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition is leaving its previous home at Twitch. The move demonstrates growing competition for broadcast rights when it comes to popular esports.
CS:GO’s second big move to YouTube
The ECS is the second sizable CS:GO competition that has relocated to YouTube.
In January, ESL confirmed that Pro League’s fifth and sixth seasons would move to YouTube. While some fans might not be happy with exclusive streaming rights deals, they’re probably inevitable, especially as more business opportunities emerge in the industry.
“Professional Counter-Strike fans and viewership has been growing at such an explosive rate, and we are excited to continue sharing this passion with our gaming viewers,” said YouTube Global Head of Gaming Content Ryan Wyatt back in January.
With the ECS-YouTube deal, the media platform will become the exclusive online broadcasting source of the competition. The event starts March 25 with promotion matches.
More recently, Wyatt shared his thoughts on YouTube’s newest venture into esports:
“This is our most significant investment into esports to date and illustrates our continued commitment to growing esports with the hundreds of millions of gamers watching YouTube each day.
The ECS revenue sharing and co-ownership structure reinforces our belief that all players should have a voice. We know the CS:GO community is already watching clips, highlights, and rebroadcasts on YouTube, so we are excited to be able to bring them all this same action live.”
As viewership grows and more esports content becomes available, it’s not surprising to see broadcasting rights change hands. Established companies like YouTube and Facebook are moving into the live streaming business to more easily reach the esports crowd.
“YouTube offers fans of the ECS an unmatched online viewing experience,” said FACEIT Chief Business Officer and co-founder Michele Attisani. “YouTube is by far the most watched platform for gamers in the world and continues to innovate and lead on video technology, making it a great place for us to call our new home for the Esports Championship Series.”
Twitter also moving into live streaming biz
Another popular social network is entering the streaming market. Starting this year, Twitter will be streaming original esports content, including live streams of esports tournaments.
The company has made deals with ESL One, DreamHack, and Intel Extreme Masters to stream more than 15 tournaments in 2017. The deal also includes 30-minute weekly shows covering competition highlights and behind-the-scenes stories, which will be produced by ESL.
“Esports fans are endemic to digital, and this partnership with Twitter expands ESL’s reach for all of our major tournaments for fans around the globe,” said ESL Vice President Social Media & Editorial Johannes Schiefer. “Intel Extreme Masters Katowice is our most anticipated live event, and we are excited to bring premier content from this tournament and beyond to more fans in a premium experience.”
Blizzard’s move from ESPN to Facebook
In January, Blizzard also announced it will move its collegiate event Heroes of the Dorm from ESPN to Facebook.
Blizzard aims to potentially attract more viewers with the move, especially considering how many fans watch their favorite games through online streaming platforms like Twitch or Azubu.
That said, an increasing amount of esports content has made its way to mainstream TV in the last year. ESPN broadcasted not only Heroes of the Dorm, but also games like Madden NFL and Street Fighter.
TBS has also experienced success with its entry into esports broadcasting; it attracted more than 500,000 fans during the ELEAGUE.
With all of these recent developments and the ongoing growth of the industry, exclusive streaming rights deals can also be expected in the future.