Yahoo Jumps Into eSports Coverage

Sports vertical ventures into the fast-growing segment of competitive video game coverage, even as Yahoo shutters other corners of its news operations

Yahoo introduced coverage of competitive video gaming known as eSports late Tuesday, launching a site dedicated to the fast-growing area within one of the remaining legs of its scaled-back news magazine-style operation.

The decision comes in the midst of an overhaul and layoffs at the Internet giant, including the shuttering of seven digital magazines in order to put greater emphasis on others, Yahoo Sports included.

“Our CEO [Marissa Mayer] has clearly talked about this publicly, that we are going to go to our strength areas. Sports is one of those,” Bob Condor, vice president of Yahoo Sports Media, told TheWrap. “We see it as a natural fit.”

In early February, Yahoo said it would be laying off 15 percent of its workforce, or about 6,000 positions, in a plan that also means exploring “strategic alternatives” — essentially putting a “for sale” sign outside Yahoo’s door.

For eSports, Yahoo is largely reassigning current employees and taking on contractors to expand, Condor said.

The site itself will focus on video, written posts and features and an aggressive stats and calendar effort. Though Tuesday’s launch is limited to a site for desktop Web viewing, the company plans a mobile app to come.

“We’ve built the site in a really quick fashion,” Condor said. “We want to make sure that … the mobile product is up to our standards.”

Though the new site’s video will focus on on-demand clips of eSports coverage initially, Yahoo is “actively working” on adding live stream feeds of events, he added.

In October, Yahoo carried the first live stream of an NFL game. Condor said that live eSports feeds were one way Yahoo could leverage live-stream technology and expertise it built with the NFL broadcast.

The rapid growth of eSports means Yahoo will be competing against young start-ups with a big head start and other media heavyweights who have rushed in. Last month, Disney’s ESPN launched a new corner of its website dedicated to eSports, and Amazon bought video game streaming site Twitch in 2014 for $970 million.

At launch, Yahoo will cover the games “League of Legends,” “Dota 2,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” “Heroes of the Storm” and “Street Fighter V,” with additional titles being added over time.

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