By Evan DeSimone
Turner Broadcasting and WME|IMG are betting big on the mainstreaming of esports with the launch of a new professional league, announced today.
The E-League, which launches in 2016 with backing from both entities, will feature pro-level competitive gaming. The league will stream 30 hours of competition weekly on digital platforms. Select matches will also be presented on television through TBS, Turner’s broadcast arm.
TBS has committed to featuring ten consecutive weeks of esports programming twice a year, including both playoff and championship competition. Live competitions, filmed in front of an audience, are planned to air in a Friday evening block. The league is expected to make its television debut with a tournament featuring “Call of Duty: Global Offensive,” a team combat title popular on the competitive gaming circuit.
This isn’t the first time that time that a linear TV network has committed itself to long-term esports broadcast. ESPN2 dabbled in competitive gaming with its presentation of “Heroes of The Dorm,” a college-level tournament featuring pro gamers playing Blizzard Entertainment’s “Heroes Of the Storm.” The broadcast failed to gain traction, but with TBS’s 90 million homes and a younger audience, Turner and its WME|IMG partners are optimistic. However, the league will still rely largely on live streaming to grab eyes, with the bulk of competition taking place on digital platforms.