June 22, 2017
Comcast’s NBC Sports announced its plans to televise an eSports tournament this summer, as broadcasters continue to experiment with competitive videogaming to increase viewership. “The cable network hopes a tournament built around a popular quirky game called ‘Rocket League’ will attract hard-to-reach viewers — particularly younger males — who increasingly are ditching cable subscriptions for live-streaming services such as Netflix,” reports The Wall Street Journal. According to Newzoo, the number of viewers for eSports will double this year over 2012 and reach 286 million by 2020.
However, most fans have been watching competitions online. ESPN and TBS have been airing eSports to modest but not unexpected ratings, since broadcasting the tournaments is still relatively new.
“Like ESPN and TBS, NBC Sports plans to live stream its tournament online as well to reach as many viewers as possible,” notes WSJ. “NBC Sports is investing in the low millions of dollars on the initiative, said Rob Simmelkjaer, senior vice president of NBC Sports Ventures.”
While TV broadcasts are still working to gain traction, online viewership remains strong. The finale to a weeklong competition for TBS’s “ELeague” generated “more than one million concurrent streams when it aired live … on Amazon.com’s Twitch, a record for a single channel on the video service.”
According to Broadcasting & Cable, NBC Sports will work with “online gaming platform FACEIT and developer Psyonix” in order to deliver “more than 40 hours of event coverage across live-streaming, video-on-demand, and linear platforms.”