Report: More Competitive Gaming Coverage Coming to ESPN

Sports media giant reportedly "delighted" by response to recent Dota 2 tournament, and is now in talks with MLG for more coverage.

ESPN's multi-day broadcast of Dota 2 tournament The International earlier this month was so successful that the studio is now in discussions to expand its eSports programming.

That's according to a source close to the sports media giant, who told The Daily Dot that ESPN was "delighted" by its recent broadcast of The International. Though viewership figures have not been disclosed, the source says the numbers "exceeded expectations across the board," going on to note that Xbox was the top viewing platform for the event.

Looking ahead, The Daily Dot's source says Major League Gaming (MLG) is in "advanced talks" to bring some of its programming to ESPN web properties and TV stations. Juggernaut shooter franchise Call of Duty and "other games" are reportedly part of the deal, which the source said both parties are hoping to finalize soon.

An ESPN representative told GameSpot, "We recognized The International as an opportunity to deliver a championship event, but have not committed to any other eSports coverage at this time."

MLG and ESPN partnered up in June to bring Call of Duty tournaments to X-Games Austin, marking the first time in history that MLG professionals would compete at the extreme sports event. This event, along with ESPN's coverage of The International--a massive tournament with a prize pool of over $10 million--gave the competitive gaming scene a legitimacy boost.

You can argue that competitive gaming is not a "legitimate" sport--and some well-known sports reporters have made that argument--but it seems ESPN isn't too interested in defining what is and is not a sport. After all, as this Atlantic opinion piece points out, ESPN also broadcasts poker, billiards, and spelling bees.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com


Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

34 comments
grenadehh
grenadehh

Are you f'ing s'ing me?


Listen here. I've been gaming longer than most of these "professional gamers" have been alive. I am a nerd, king nerd of Nerdvania and I have about -15% interest in anything sport related - especially real sports. I watch sports when I happen to be viewing ESPN, which is only at the bar. I care less than that -15% about "e-gaming" and I swear to you, if I am ever at the bar and I see some kids playing SC2 on ESPN, I'm leaving that bar immediately and might set it on fire.


I would rather watch Keith Olbermann teach me to macrame than watch this crap on ESPN.

blackothh
blackothh

When G4 TV came out I figured that this was going to be the channel that games were broadcast on. I never thought ESPN would be the ones to try it.

Triton
Triton

Finally a reason to stop watching ESPN.

bongsyas_23
bongsyas_23

finally, a reason to start watching ESPN

hystavito
hystavito

Gotta take it slow and easy though.  I think there's a stigma around this with their existing traditional sports audience, they definitely don't want to get branded with a gaming/eSports reputation amongst that crowd.

Ereheru
Ereheru

ESPN stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, so we can just call this entertainment, right? 

DrKill09
DrKill09

(shakes head)  Gaming is not a sport!

AzureBonds76
AzureBonds76

So since ESPN is going to be covering DOTA 2 tournaments, how are the players going to prevent themselves from getting wood when Erin Andrews interviews them?



quicktim3
quicktim3

why not try to get coverage of the most popular pc game and currently the most popular esport?


league of legends. 

sonyonly4
sonyonly4

LOL This is getting out off hand, Nobody wants to tune in to ESPN to watch a bunch off snotty 14 year olds quick scope in Call Of Dudey.

wEEman33
wEEman33

Time to sign Cotton McKnight and Pepper Brooks to a long-term commentary deal.

oflow
oflow

Good news.  I hope they get some better announcers than most of the ones at the tournaments I've been watching lately.  Maybe hire a few hot gamer chicks that actually know the games and put them to work.

DrKill09
DrKill09

@Ereheru I have a feeling this will only lead to ESPN becoming a gaming channel, instead of a sports channel.  Kind of like how MTV became about reality shows instead of music, History Channel became the Pawn Stars Channel, G4 went from being about gaming to being about Japanese game shows, and The Weather Channel became the Stupid Somewhat Weather Related Shows Channel.

Hoski0999
Hoski0999

@DrKill09 an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.


Gaming (though not nearly as much) does involve physical exertion and is a competition for entertainment.  Hence... yes it is a sport.

Hellknite190
Hellknite190

@quicktim3 I wouldn't really call it the most competitive esport, though it is certainly one of the most popular PC games out there. If I'm honest, valve have spent more effort trying to make dota 2 a very watch-able game than riot have with LoL. I'm assuming that's why the International was more than just a passing interest to those who were new to the thing.

JakeTehNub
JakeTehNub

@quicktim3 because League is just DOTA but worse in every way.

Xirtahm
Xirtahm

@sonyonly4 Yes, because 100% of competitive gamers are 14 and only play Call of Duty.  

Zombrex
Zombrex

@DrKill09 @Ereheru Don't forget Syfy(Sci-fi), it went from badass sci-fi programming to the WWE and Asylum low budget movie channel. With occasional appearances of things loosely sci-fi.

banderweir
banderweir

@DrKill09 @Ereheru There is actually a name for this phenomenon: channel drift. I don't think ESPN will drift too much, they make too much money riding the cable companies' gravy train (If anything these gaming events will be relegated to ESPN 2 or 3 I bet). And Viacom ruined MTV long before Youtube...

Ereheru
Ereheru

@DrKill09 @Ereheru A valid concern that I had not thought of.

I think most of those examples were due to the cheapness of "Reality" TV shows compared to scripted (and in the History Channel's case, researched) shows.  G4 was bought out by TechTV, and then basically dismantled, which was very sad.  MTV was killed by the internet and YouTube, since why wait all day for your favorite video when you could watch it any time you want.


I guess you could say that the internet killed the video star...


I think the real danger to ESPN is the major sports leagues deciding to start their own channels (which runs into problems when the sport is off season).

hystavito
hystavito

@DrKill09 @Ereheru I hate what has happened with all the specialty channels, especially the ones like History that used to be a lot more educational.  But they go where the money is I guess.

quicktim3
quicktim3

@Hellknite190 @quicktim3 thats why i said it was the most popular esport. not the most competitive. compared to other esports the game is less skill based. 


no they haven't lol. what Riot has done with league in terms of lcs, real salaries, production value, is loads better then what valve is currently doing.


do you even follow the scene?

quicktim3
quicktim3

@JakeTehNub thats all opinion based. but just looking at the facts, league is more popular and currently has better infrastructure as an esport compared to any other game. 


you could look at starcraft but league has now surpassed it. 

quicktim3
quicktim3

@bldgirsh @quicktim3 ey you're probably right, all those official numbers saying league was the most popular pc game is prob wrong.


you would probably know more. 

Zombrex
Zombrex

@Ereheru @DrKill09 ZDTV was replaced with TechTV which was taken over by G4. Very sad indeed. NBC Universal technically "owns" G4 and has no plans to do anything aside from show reruns on the channel.

Hellknite190
Hellknite190

@quicktim3 @Hellknite190 Are you having a giggle? Dota's spectator and broadcasting features are simply better than what they have at league. That is a fact.

The international was made much more watch-able due to the multi-cast, the newcomer's broadcast and hell, even the compendium made people much more invested. And although this is obviously just my opinion, I also find the interface much easier to look at than league's.


And no, I can't say I watch league's scene. I honestly don't really enjoy playing the game enough to be able to enjoy watching it as well.

Judeuduarte
Judeuduarte

@Hellknite190 @Xirtahm @sonyonly4 Is it? I don't follow esports much but from the news here it seems that the bigger tournments are fot MOBA's, Starcraft and fighting games. 

In fact the only FPS that i remember having big tournments is Counter-strike, and usuallysnotty 14 year olds don't play that

Ereheru
Ereheru

@Zombrex @Ereheru @DrKill09 You are correct, I got the order of that wrong.  G4 bought TechTV, and got rid of most of the on air personalities and shows from both networks, then moved away from gaming programming.

Hellknite190
Hellknite190

@Judeuduarte @Hellknite190 @Xirtahm @sonyonly4 I'm getting at the fact that they are in 'advanced talks' with MLG. MLG whose front page and streams being dominated by COD:Ghosts and similar games. Last time I checked, they didn't really have a lot of stuff dedicated to actual balanced competitive games like the ones you mentioned.

The only reason the International garnered so much attention was the frankly absurd size of the prize pool.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for games like Dota 2, CS:GO and the like getting more attention like that, but going to MLG certainly is the wrong way to go about things.