League of Legends Developer and ESPN Both Deny "Active Talks" for $500 Million Broadcast Deal [UPDATE]
It's unclear if this will affect broadcasting on Twitch and other streaming platforms.
[UPDATE 2] ESPN responded to our request for comment and has said that the report is false. Additionally, it said that it does not have a deal with Riot Games to broadcast League of Legends.
[UPDATE] Riot Games responded to GameSpot's request for comment and stated that the report is inaccurate and that there are "no active talks with ESPN." This doesn't rule out the possibility that the two companies were in discussion at some point. We'll continue to keep you updated. The original story follows.
ESPN has already started its own esports division, and now it sounds like it might buy broadcasting rights to League of Legends. The sports network is reportedly in discussions with Riot Games to pay $500 million to broadcast the popular MOBA, according to PVP Live.
It's not known what effect this will have on Riot's current agreements with Twitch, Yahoo, and other streaming platforms. Additionally, it's unclear when this deal will happen or what time frame it will encompass. It's also unknown if the deal is only for the North American League of Legends Championship Series or European broadcasts as well.
Although $500 million is more than we've seen thrown around in the realm of esports, it's not uncharted ground for sports broadcasters. ESPN paid $7.3 billion in 2012 for 12 years of college football playoff games, working out to about $608 million a year. In 2013, Rogers Communications struck a deal for exclusive rights to broadcast the NHL in Canada, which amounts to about $436 million annually for 12 years. Again, it's unclear if ESPN's League of Legends deal will be for a year or several. We've reached out to both ESPN and Riot for comment and will keep you updated as more information is revealed.
ESPN has broadcasted Blizzard's MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, on TV in the past, and it plans to do it again. The Heroes of the Dorm tournament sees college students competing against each other for tuition money.
In other esports-related news, the ESL recently revealed its plan to clean up doping, corruption, and cheating, in which it created a new governing body called the World Esports Association.
"WESA is an open and inclusive organisation that will further professionalize esports by introducing elements of player representation, standardised regulations, and revenue sharing for teams. WESA will seek to create predictable schedules for fans, players, organisers and broadcasters, and for the first time bring all stakeholders to the discussion table."
GameSpot's Rob Crossley spoke to ESL chief executive Ralf Reichert and WESA's interim commissioner Pietro Fringuelli. The full interview, in which Rob discovered WESA to be a "comprehensively flawed project," can be read right here.
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