In another giant leap forward for eSports, a major cable network has committed to airing Friday night eSports.
Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) has partnered with talent-agent juggernaut WME/IMG to create a new competitive outlet for eSports with Counter Strike: Global Offensive set the lead the broadcast as the first season’s game of choice.
Launching in early 2016, TBS will host two 10-week seasons that will cover a regular season, playoffs, and a championship. A Friday night timeslot on a major cable network is not a bad place to be, but as an extra push to show support for eSports, daily eSports content will be featured on TBS from Tuesday through Friday. Digital content is also a part of the plan, including behind-the-scenes coverage and player profiles.
The official statement from IMG includes much enthusiasm for the ever-growing world of eSports.
Lenny Daniels, president of Turner Sports, said, “eSports is one of the fastest growing entertainment genres among young adults around the world. We’re looking forward to creating a tremendous live event atmosphere, leveraging the infrastructure and expertise within Turner Studios, and presenting the competitions in an innovative way throughout our portfolio of leading brands.”
Tobias Sherman, head of WME | IMG’s eSports division said, “WME | IMG is constantly seeking new ways to help fans enjoy the eSports they love and attract more fans to the sport. This venture is a great example of our commitment to growing the eSports industry, and Turner is the perfect partner to make this a reality. We’ve so enjoyed working with Valve and the teams through this endeavor, and we’re excited for the future.”
This a huge deal for eSports, with CS:GO being a strong choice to bring the network a significant amount of viewers. League of Legends has a large and rabid fan base, but might be hard to follow for casual viewers who might tune into the Friday night season but have little eSports knowledge. First person shooters seem to be the best middle ground for TBS to appeal to and create new fans, while also catering towards the already dedicated fan base.
With CS:GO announced as the only official title for the launch of the first season, who knows what games may appear for season two. Perhaps this is a chance for the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians to re-join the competitive spotlight, or for Treyarch to slide in with more ways to broadcast Black Ops III.
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