Hulu Will Debut Its First eSports Programs, Produced by ESL

Hulu is now into eSports, having just ordered four original series from ESL, a major eSports content and tournament producer. The upcoming eSports content, which will total about 15 hours, will premiere in the fall, exclusively on Hulu. The shows are “Player v. Player,” a game-style talk show; docu-series “Bootcamp,” which follows The Immortals, an elite “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” team; “Defining Moments,” which explores various eSports topics; and “ESL Replay,” which recaps four big tournaments.

Variety reports that Emmy-winning producer Barry Hennessey will be in charge of the productions, which will start this week.

“ESports is one of the fastest-growing areas of media and entertainment, and through this first-of-its-kind deal with ESL we can now bring the popular world of eSports to Hulu,” said that company’s vice president of content acquisition Lisa Holme, who added that her company’s subscribers — “especially those who access the service on video-game consoles” — “are hungry for this type of content.”

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Hennessey, whose credits include CBS’s “The Amazing Race” and A&E’s “Born This Way,” said “he’s long been an avid gamer,” but was “blown away” by the “rabid fanbase” at the ESL One Brooklyn Beatdown event last month.

In producing the shows, ESL is targeting that rabid fanbase, but also hopes to move more into mainstream entertainment, “accessible to video-game fans who aren’t necessarily familiar with ‘CS-GO’ tournaments.”

ESL co-founder and senior vice president of global media rights and distribution Nik Adams calls Hulu “a perfect match for us.” “After 15 years of live eSports, we are moving into a space to reach a broader audience,” said Adams, who “moved from last year from the company’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany, to L.A. aiming to cut entertainment-biz deals.”

ESL’s majority owner is Swedish media conglomerate MTG, which produces 20,000+ hours of eSports programming per year, and “operates eSports leagues and tournaments including the Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One, and ESL National Championships.”