January 18, 2016
ESPN launched a new vertical on its website to cover all things related to competitive gaming, including news articles, event coverage, profiles of prominent eSports figures, and analysis. The network started broadcasting professional video game tournaments in 2014 and released a special edition of ESPN The Magazine focusing on eSports in 2015. The success of those projects helped spur the launch of the new vertical, which currently covers popular games such as “League of Legends.”
The move gives some serious credibility to the eSports world. The new section on the ESPN website features articles and videos about professional gaming leagues and international tournaments. Some of the writers covering major eSports events will make regular appearances on ESPN shows like “SportsCenter.”
Chad Millman, editor-in-chief of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine, told Variety that the network was impressed with the passion and engagement of the eSports audience. “We want to treat eSports with the same seriousness and credibility that we treat the NFL, the NBA, and Major League Baseball,” Millman said.
Competitive gaming has turned into a $500 million industry in the past few years, according to The Los Angeles Times. Last year, 14 million people were simultaneously watching the finals of the “Dota 2” international competition online. Some top players are now making more than $1 million in prize money.
ESPN isn’t the only company with their eye on the eSports industry. PC Gamer reports Activision paid $46 million for Major League Gaming, which operates an online broadcast network for eSports and runs a pro league.