Riot Games Finalizes $300 Million Streaming Deal With MLBAM

Posted on December 20, 2016 - Last Updated on July 15, 2019

Game developer Riot Games and Major League Baseball Advanced Media’s (MLBAM) tech arm BAMTech have finalized the streaming rights deal that has been in the works this year.

The deal features exclusive rights to stream and monetize matches of League of Legends, Riot Games’ signature product.

League of Legends streaming rights worth $300 million

As part of the deal, BAMTech will reportedly pay at least $300 million to Riot Games for the streaming rights.

Now, the company that has initiated similar deals with organizations like the National Hockey Association and the Professional Golfers’ Association will be allowed to broadcast tournaments of the popular game through 2023.

Besides using Twitch to distribute the game’s content, the software development company also plans to introduce an additional streaming app. The app should launch without a subscription charge, but it could include a fee for premium content in the future.

“We wouldn’t be here if there [wasn’t] an app involved,” BAMTech President of Business and Media Bob Bowman told Yahoo Esports. “We’re going to build a world-class app for a world-class game.”

The app will be launched region by region, and developing it will include the input of the community.

MLBAM is a partnership of 30 Major League Baseball club owners. The company is the online and interactive branch of the league. It operates the official MLB website and thirty MLB club sites.

BAMTech, the subsidiary of MLBAM, has a focus on web and mobile solutions. Its clients include companies like HBO, Sony, and Turner Sports.

“Our goal has always been to build ‘League of Legends’ into a major global sport,” Riot Games Co-Head of Esports and Head of Merchandising Jarred Kennedy said in The Wall Street Journal. “We want our sport to be funded by itself and we think this deal is going to help us get there.”

Average annual return of $50 million

An interview with Yahoo Esports’ Travis Gafford revealed that the partnership should guarantee an average annual return of $50 million. The interview also confirmed that the deal won’t change the existing viewership experience in the upcoming year.

“We first and foremost believe in making sure that the content is in places where the fans want to watch it, so that will continue to be the case,” Kennedy told Gafford. “We believe in making content freely available, and it will continue to be freely available into the future. We have no plans to change that.”

According to Kennedy, even though teams and players won’t be directly participating in the revenue generated from the deal, it could affect revenue sharing with organizations in the future.

League of Legends offering a gigantic audience

The idea to monetize League of Legends matches makes a lot of sense, especially considering the game’s huge fan base.

For example, during the recent World Championship, the biggest annual event the game has to offer, LoL attracted a record-breaking 43 million unique viewers in the final match.

The 370 million total hours of live esports content offered during the 15 days of competition also demonstrates the game’s popularity.

Furthermore, League of Legends is consistently the most-watched game on Twitch.

The game is on a plausible path to reaching an unprecedented 100 million monthly users by the end of the year. This is in line with the development of esports in general, an industry that has shown exponential growth during the last couple years.

Image c/o Riot esports

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Dejan Zalik

Dejan has been involved in gaming for over 10 years. Moving from classics like Diablo 2, Lineage 2, and Warcraft 3, he found his passion in Dota 2, which he’s been playing ever since. He also likes to keep up to date by reading and writing about whatever is happening in the industry.

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