CBS Interactive announced today that it had formed an exclusive partnership with both TwitchTV and Major League Gaming. This move put the company in position to gain control of a large chunk of the fast-growing North American eSports scene.
This new deal gives CBS Interactive the ability to sell the advertising on TwitchTV and makes CBS Interactive the exclusive broadcaster of all MLG Pro Circuit events.
Jim Lanzone, the President of CBS Interactive, explained the reason for this move.
The eSports scene is one of the hottest trends in video, and is rapidly attracting the core 18-34 male demographic in greater numbers than any other medium or category. With these partnerships, CBSi now represents the biggest audience in live gaming and is able to offer our advertising partners a unique mix of trusted, premium content along with the huge engagement and audience that the eSports scene is commanding right now.
The rise of livestreaming and the impressive eSports scene that has developed around MOBA games, such as League of Legends and RTS titles like Starcraft II, has given birth to a new wave of competitive gaming tournaments, livestreams, and team franchises. CBS Interactive, the owner of GameSpot, Giant Bomb, GameFAQs, and Metacritic, hopes that this move will help the company get a foothold in this newly revived competitive gaming scene.
In a press release, the company reiterated just how important this acquisition is for them.
Competitive gaming, often referred to as eSports, has grown dramatically over the past several years driven by the success of platforms like TwitchTV and the popularity of live gaming. On average, people tune into live gaming competitions and events for 23 minutes versus the 3 minutes for a typical on-demand clip. Across CBS Interactive Games, more than 3 billion minutes of video are served each month to 18-34 year old men, making these sites 300% more likely to deliver this coveted demographic than traditional video sites like YouTube. In addition, live eSports competitions deliver a massively engaged audience, with fans engaging real time through social media versus the quick tune-in, tune-out mentality of watching clips.
Analysis: I’ve been pretty heavily involved in the League of Legends eSports scene, and let me tell you, it’s the gaming equivalent of a big, wide open oil field just yearning to earn some company millions of dollars. There are tens of thousands of viewers regularly watching pros on livestreams, and tournaments can see upwards to a million people tuning in to watch their favorite teams play live. While eSports in the past has been a very insular scene, the rise of livestreaming platforms like own3d and TwitchTV are causing more and more people to pour in to watch high-level play. I think there’s a lot of money to be made here, and it doesn’t surprise me that a corporate giant like CBS Interactive now wants to grab a giant piece of that upcoming market.
Although eSports does have some significant hurdles to overcome, mainly the sporadic and unstable atmosphere of pro gaming teams which makes it difficult for casual viewers to keep up with their favorites, I think there’s a reason that companies like Riot Games and Valve are actively focusing on making eSports-designed titles. eSports might just be the next big thing, and companies that embrace this trend could be looking at profits in excess of a million dollars.
CBS Interactive is a big media conglomerate, and to see them come out in support of eSports means a lot. While I don’t think TwitchTV or Major League Gaming will see any drastic changes in the immediate future, I think the increase in money flow into the competitive gaming industry will make a big impact in the long run.