It has been a long time since John Skipper, the president of ESPN, shared his opinion on whether esports belong in the ranks of what the network televises.
When he last commented, Skipper said, “It’s not a sport, it’s a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition. Mostly I’m interested in doing real sports.”
As time passed, ESPN has realized that esports is something the company should definitely get interested in and formed its own portal to cover esports.
Now, for the first time, ESPN will air an entire block of esports events on its major networks. Sunday, July 17, will feature 18 broadcasted hours of competitive gaming, split between ESPN2 and ESPNU.
When esports is on
Starting at 10 a.m. EST, viewers will be able to watch re-airings of past matches, such as the Madden NFL 2016 championship, as well as both the 2015 and 2016 Heroes of the Dorm: Championships. The much-anticipated 2016 Street Fighter V EVO World Championship final in Las Vegas will follow at 10 p.m. EST on ESPN2.
All of this will of course be available on the WatchESPN stream as well.
Esports closer getting closer to becoming mainstream
As revenues rise and awareness hits new highs, it is only expected that esports content appears on mainstream TV more often than ever. Even though it was only last year that ESPN aired the first Heroes of the Storm tournament match on live TV, it has since been proven that esports has great potential to attract viewers, old and new.
As the industry continues to grow and expand, ESPN’s own portal to cover esports is definitely paying off, and we hope more esports coverage on mainstream TV – including ongoing events such as Turner’s ELEAGUE for CS:GO – is to come in the near future.
An interesting switch from traditional sports to esports
A great article by VentureBeat summarized ESPN’s decision to go all-in on esports, exposing how traditional sports are less of a go-to thing for young kids than in the past.
“Traditional sports are losing interest, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to turn around. Fewer high school-aged kids are participating in sports. Starting in 2008 and continuing through 2012, football saw a 5.4 percent drop in players from 3.26 million to 3.08 million. And they aren’t going to soccer, baseball, or basketball — those sports saw declines of 7.1 percent, 7.2 percent, and 8.3 percent, respectively. Only lacrosse is growing, but it isn’t making up the difference for what the other sports are losing.”
This, coupled with competitive gaming gaining an increased amount of attention globally will make many companies look at the gaming industry as a potential target for the switch from their traditional business model that is developed around traditional sports coverage.