A successful event returns
A crowd of about 100,000 fans tuned in during the first Heroes of the Dorm event in 2015 when the game was first launched. While it wasn’t a significant number, it was still decent for a stream on national television.
ESPN showed the finals of the event on its ESPN2 network, and it was the first time a full esports match was broadcasted live on mainstream television. (Dota 2’s The International aired on the same network a year before, but it was just a preview.) While it wasn’t a massive success, ESPN was still pleased with the result.
“The event met our strategic objectives to experiment with new formats and programming and engage new fans,” the network told GamesBeat in 2015. “While we have no additional esports plans to announce at this time, we will continue to look to deliver championship events that deliver on those objectives.”
What the switch to Facebook means
While last year’s event attracted a similar viewership during the finals (around 110,000), Blizzard has decided to move this year’s tournament to Facebook Live.
“We were very happy with the quality and reception of Heroes of the Dorm when we partnered with ESPN,” Blizzard College Esports Lead Adam Rosen told GamesBeat. “They are a great partner and helped put on a terrific show the last couple of years. With Heroes of the Dorm 2017, social media users around the world will be able to watch live streamed collegiate esports matches exclusively on Facebook, beginning with the regular season and continuing all the way through the National Championship. 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.”
Switching from ESPN to Facebook could potentially attract more viewers, especially considering how many fans watch their favorite games through online streaming platforms, like Twitch or Azubu.
“Heroes of the Dorm has featured some of the most dramatic college esports action of the past two years, and with more prizes for more teams up for grabs this year, we’re looking forward to a whole new level of competition,” said Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime in a press release. “We’re also excited to be working with Facebook this year to bring more live Heroes of the Dorm play to more viewers around the world than ever before.”
Esports slowly but surely conquering mainstream TV
Since 2015, esports has been a growing presence on mainstream TV. While ESPN started off with Heroes of the Dorm, it went on to broadcast other esports events, like Madden NFL and Street Fighter. It also launched an esports-dedicated portal at the beginning of 2016.
Additionally, Turner Broadcasting launched its own esports project in cooperation with talent agency WME/IMG in 2016. The ELEAGUE, a CS:GO league, attracted more than 500,000 fans during its debut on TBS.
With revenue, audience numbers, and awareness growing in the esports industry, we’ll surely see more content on mainstream TV in the near future.