Cinedigm is capitalizing on the growing popularity of eSports with the launch of a new 24/7 digital channel. Dubbed WHAM, the digital channel will offer a wide range of gamer and esports-driven programming that includes original content such as “UMG Gaming,” showcasing thousands of hours of game tournaments and highlights; “Clip Blip,” an outrageous compilation series of epic tales and tragic fails from across the ‘Streamosphere;’ and “esports Central Live,” broadcasting esports news, industry developments, new releases, and tournament results live from WHAM’s studio in Las Vegas.
Founded by Gary Kleinman in 2016, the WHAM Network is a partner of leading independent content distributor Cinedigm, with both companies jointly operating the channel. “Made by gamers for gamers,” WHAM is devoted to providing innovative and immersive programming covering the latest in industry news and the celebrity gaming scene, and providing original series, intense esports tournaments, and in-depth coverage of live events.
Why it matters
Cinedigm is capitalizing on two growing trends in the streaming market: 24/7 linear channels and eSports.
Linear is coming back in a big way. Dragged from the depths of the traditional broadcasting world, linear is making a emergence with the help of services like YouTube TV, Sling TV, Xumo, Pluto TV, and Twitch. While these services aren’t nearly as popular as VOD services they are starting to attract a following. Both YouTube TV and Hulu TV, which launched last year have already acquired 450,000 paying subscribers and just over 300,000, respectively. Sling TV, on the other hand, has over 2 million after launching in 2015. Social video platforms like Twitch has also jumped in on the action, launching over a dozen “Always On” channels on its platform — though it is too early to tell exactly how successful the new initiative has been.
The launch of WHAM is part of a larger push by Cinedigm to make a presence for itself in the growing gamer industry. The global esports audience is expected to reach 380 million this year, made up of 165 million Esports Enthusiasts and 215 million Occasional Viewers, according to a 2018 Global Esports Market Report from Newzoo. On its current trajectory, Newzoo estimates that the esports industry will reach $1.4 billion by 2020.