Professional videogame players have been anxiously waiting to get the recognition they deserve on TV. A decade ago, the future of eSports on television looked bleak, despite a couple of successful attempts. Today, the overwhelming majority of those who watch professional players in action do so over the Internet. They use streams and spend long hours on Twitch, watching professionals compete in tournaments or showcasing their skills in friendly matches.
The Promises and Pitfalls of eSports on TV
Major TV channels and broadcasting networks have come to realize the tremendous potential of eSports. Not so long ago they were dismissed as a narrow niche, not worth investing in because of the young audiences. Today, ESPN is signing lucrative deals with videogame developers and the organizations hosting major land-based and online tournaments. Content creators and broadcasters are now very successful and monetizing their productions and TV networks expect to do the same.
Mass media broadcasters want a piece of the action, but they encounter serious competition from established platforms such as Twitch. The industry didn’t get this far overnight, but there were a couple of factors that acted as catalysts for its success. Some of them can be replicated on television, but some are going to prove to be huge obstacles for traditional media companies.
The number of people willing to watch eSports on TV is on the rise, but many more are reluctant to make the transition from the online environment. Truth be told, there’s simply too much content for television and most of the dedicated fans won’t settle for general content. What appeals to casual spectators is unlikely to satisfy hardcore fans currently dwelling on Twitch. This is one of the biggest challenges for the TV industry, as it is finally willing and ready to embrace eSports wholeheartedly.