ESL, David Hill launch premium esports production service
ESL and award-winning sports broadcaster David Hill have announced the launch of Esports by Hill, a premium production platform. ESL and Hill will work together to develop an exclusive service that will feature special projects from select publishers and sponsors to create new and exciting viewing experiences for esports fans.
Hill is a longtime Fox employee, who’s spent over 20 years with the company. He previously held the role of senior executive vice president at 21st Century Fox. He’s most notable for spearheading the launch of Fox Sports as well as helping launch Fox Network, Sky Television, and Fox’s regional sports networks.
In 2015, Hill launched the production venture Hilly, where he co-produced the 88th Academy Awards. Hill has also served as the executive producer on The X Factor and the last two seasons of American Idol. Hill is also credited with developing the NFL’s first down graphic line and the NHL’s glowing hockey puck for Fox.
Hill has stated that his first priority will be to find and develop exceptional talent, or as he put it: “… training ESL production teams on TV best practices and recruiting and grooming star-caliber esports announcers.”
“We’re going to find gaming’s answer to Joe Buck and Terry Bradshaw,” said Hill in a statement.
ESL and multi-award winning executive David Hill launch premium esports production service
— ESL (@ESL) February 1, 2017
ESL, which is majority-owned by Swedish media conglomerate MTG, produces more than 20,000 hours of esports programming per year through in-person and online competitions and tournaments. These include game titles like Riot’s League of Legends, Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch, and Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
ESL fans initially showed concern that current content, often streamed on Twitch, will be moved to a pay-per-view platform. ESL looked to squash those rumors with an immediate press statement:
“At ESL we’re always looking for ways to improve the on-site and on-air production of our events. At the moment we are investigating all avenues to further improve our products, including investing in studio development, working with top talent and bringing on board key industry experts from related industries.
With David Hill on board, we’re aiming at doing just that: making the ESL experience better. That being said, there are no plans to make any of our tournaments or events “pay-per-view” products. We are investigating additional content concepts around our events, which could include PPV components, but the core viewing experience for ESL events will remain unchanged.
Broadcasts from ESL’s core products and events will remain available on various online platforms as well as a continually increasing portfolio of TV stations around the world.”
ESL secures Gillette as a sponsor
ESL was extremely busy last week securing its future. The smooth shave of Gillette is now behind ESL.
The P&G male grooming brand is jumping into the lucrative esports market by sponsoring ESL’s Intel Extreme Masters event in Katowice, Poland. The event starts at the end of February.
“Gillette has been a leader in sports for many years, often partnering with the top leagues and players, and we are thrilled to welcome such an iconic global brand to our ESL family,” said ESL North America CEO Craig Levine. “Gillette understands the growing popularity of esports and will play an integral role in helping us enhance the fan experience at the IEM Katowice World Championship.”
— Intel®ExtremeMasters (@IEM) February 1, 2017
Gillette also unveiled a new League of Legends ambassador, legendary European player Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño. xPeke joins current superstar athletes Neymar, Lionel Messi, and Roger Federer as Gillette ambassadors.
To celebrate its new relationship with ESL, Gillette will be offering custom razor handles during this month’s IEM Katowice tournament. 3D printers will be onsite, and all participants and fans will receive free razors. Competitors will also enjoy free grooming services during the event.
Global Gillette Vice President John Mang explained what makes the company a natural partner for esports:
“It’s been exciting and eye-opening as we’ve immersed ourselves in the gaming community and discovered that both professional and amateur gamers have a lot in common with other premier athletes and sports fanatics.
Gamers at all levels recognize the importance of precision – split seconds and minute movements make big differences. We get that obsession with precision better than anyone.”
Heroes of the Dorm leaves ESPN for Facebook
In a surprising announcement, this year’s Heroes of the Dorm esports tournament will be streamed exclusively through Facebook Live, ending its brief relationship with ESPN.
After two years with ESPN, Twitch, and YouTube, every Heroes of the Dorm match will now be streamed only on Facebook. Blizzard stated the move should enhance its social media presence. The company hopes Facebook will provide the proper platform to easily share video clips and interact with its audience.
Heroes of the Dorm pits college teams across the United States and Canada against each other for a chance to win free tuition.
While Heroes of the Dorm doesn’t attract large viewing audiences, this is the first sign that Facebook is willing to venture into the esports market. Currently, the Amazon-owned Twitch leads all esports streaming services.
— Heroes of the Storm (@BlizzHeroes) January 25, 2017
“We were very happy with the quality and reception of Heroes of the Dorm when we partnered with ESPN,” said Blizzard College Esports Lead Adam Rosen.
“They are a great partner and helped put on a terrific show the last couple of years … We’re excited to bring a new level of engagement to Heroes of the Dorm — through Facebook, people around the globe will be able to interact with each other in the moment, easily keep on top of the action on the go, and share their passion with friends.”
In 2015, UC Berkeley’s team became the first-ever Heroes of the Dorm winners. Last year’s tournament saw Arizona State University’s “Real Dream Team” earning their tuition.
This year’s tournament will give out more than $500,000 in scholarships and prizes. The season starts on Feb. 15 and ends with the championship on April 8. College gamers looking to get into the tournament can sign up here.
Image credit: Kevin Brine / Shutterstock.com