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|
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