Are Disney and Tencent negotiating TV rights?

Isn’t it funny how using the parent companies’ names make these sort of deals more of an incredible spectacle to behold? (And if you come back at me with this “oooo butbutbutbutbut le rito is not le child company of le onedime chinur corporation lelelelele” nonsense, prepare to be told off.)

PVPLive has reported that Disney’s ESPN unit and Tencent’s Riot Games are actively negotiating television broadcast rights for the LCS. The deal is rumored to be valued somewhere in the region of $500m USD. Such a deal is equivalent to about one-third of Riot’s annual revenue, according to estimates from SuperData Research.

I’ve been on the record saying that ESPN’s entrance into esports was always a two-part equation: having the right people in-house and delivering killer video content.

You have to hand it to ESPN, they’ve certainly been recruiting some great writers to contribute to their reporting and their coverage hub has been putting out a lot of content spanning all of the major esports as well as grassroot scenes returning to popularity, like Smash.

Speaking of hiring great reporters–what happened to Slasher?

The second part of that formula hasn’t been as big of a stand-out success as I initially expected it to be. Even if it were simply someone recording a voice over and filing reports with the most generalized language possible so it could be thrown into currently existing shows or rundowns, having the additional touch of quality and professionalism that an ESPN video-journalistic approach could offer would make for some pretty compelling content.

However, Yahoo! has picked up the slack from ESPN with regards to video features and overall video packages. Many of the personalities they have aren’t leading minds in a given esport, but they are such believable presenters that you are willing to resist the urge to criticize them for being good in front of a camera.

If by making an earnest effort to incorporate esports content into ESPN’s broadcast platforms (not simply television) ends up being the most effective way to increase ESPN’s share of the younger demographics, then Disney might perhaps be making a right move here.

Facing increased pressure from shareholders over their ESPN unit’s recent ratings slump among other short-comings, an investment like this makes sense, especially considering how Disney is perceived to have strong-armed the stock market into stopping a rally. An important perspective to keep when rival Comcast announced it would be unveiling its own answer to sports streaming in the form of Playmaker, competing with WatchESPN bringing more important events to the world of streaming content such as the Premier League, the Triple Crown, the NASCAR championship and–its first client–the Olympics, for crying out loud.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of pressure on ESPN to expand its streaming content offerings and coverage to be able to adapt to or at least keep up with their corporate rivals’ potential offerings. CBS and Fox haven’t really stepped into the realm of streaming platform supremacy, as far as I know, but I’d be willing to bet that the first one that doesn’t require me to log into my cable TV provider’s authentication portal to a stream will win.

Look on the bright side, there’s no need for a chat window to be shown by default for these streams to be successful ventures.

And as if this post wasn’t confusing enough, this whole story may have been written up with less than all the facts. A freelance reporter says that he has received a pretty solid denial from a nameless PR drone at ESPN and Engadget are now running a story with a more firm denial expressly stating Riot are in “no active talks with ESPN at the moment.”

Maybe this is just a fairly credible rumor that PVPLive are running with?

Just give me Overwatch already.

2300 UTC. 1900 Eastern. 1600 Pacific.

Overwatch unlocks for play later today. I’m pretty excited to jump back into the grind of unlocking and completing a new game again, and if the beta was any indication, I won’t rage out on it so much–especially considering matches usually take less than ten minutes to complete.

That’s one of the major sticking points that I have with trying to compete in the CS:GO matchmaking mode as presented in the client. I can’t handle the range of other people who play matchmaking–from players who don’t effectively communicate to those that would rather spam the dankest of memes and not even bother to try. It becomes a crap shoot as to whether or not I am going to be matched up with competent teammates and other players who seriously just want to try to play their best–or at least give an honest go at the game.

It’s not like I have thousands of hours in the game or anything, but when you end up playing at least forty or fifty minutes per map and being locked into playing with shit teammates who leave early, who decide not to listen, and/or who intentionally lose the game makes for a certain extra dramatic element that Valve isn’t addressing or making an effort to fix.

Sure, the Prime Matchmaking scheme they announced might help remove the more suspect accounts from matchmaking contention, but it won’t completely remove them unless they allow for Prime players to only be matched with other Prime players. I seriously doubt the likelihood of Valve attempting to fight off the epidemic of smurf accounts that are commonly used to circumvent the matchmaking system in the interest of not closing off additional vectors for revenue.

Meanwhile, I seem to be the only person in my group of friends that haven’t intentionally left a match in the Overwatch beta due to pure rage. I don’t see how I can get upset with a game that I will end up playing for an hour straight and not be limited to one match.

I might have been salty on more than one occasion with how our team’s composition might not have been effective against another team’s, but there always seems to be a rock, paper, scissors approach to composition strategy that’s fluid enough thanks to being able to swap between heroes during the respawn timer. However, I generally feel more confident in being able to suggest a character swap in Overwatch than I am to suggest a plan of attack in CS:GO.

Forget tactical strategy as a parallel, consider buytime in CS:GO. Entire classes of weapons are considered too unreliable to be used at a competitive level–leaving you with four rifles, four pistols and sometimes a shotgun. Maybe SMGs if you’re looking to out-play your opponents or play like a complete moron who can’t hit shots to save his life (as I end up being on a regular basis).

For some reason I don’t feel as critical about my teammate’s decisions in Overwatch when I was playing the beta. Perhaps that’s only a temporary thing, but I think that on the whole, I might find that I enjoy how Blizzard has casualized the team arena shooter while making it feel fun to play in a way that only Blizzard could.

I’m looking forward to this evening. For sure.

Astralis provides esports with an example of transparency

You have to hand it to Astralis with their most recent post about transparency behind cajunb‘s ownership situation.

They have simultaneously defused any public backlash about the trade and, for a large part, explained how their player-based co-ownership system ends up working out. While they didn’t disclose specific numbers regarding the amount of money involved, they disclosed a lot more about the process than they were obligated to, by any means.

A TL;DR of his ownership situation: he will keep some of his share in the company, however, as a minority stakeholder, he won’t have any control or vote in Astralis’ operations. His minority stake doesn’t allow him to directly profit from the team’s performance, only from a potential sale of the organization to a new owner.

TLEP #037 – Miscommunication Internationale

There might be a potentially bullshit report of FaZe paying a $50k USD penalty in order to leave WESA floating out there in the ether at the moment, but I recorded today’s podcast covering the GameSpot interview before that report came out. Internet cool person Rob Crossley totally nailed it in his coverage of the WESA press conference. In today’s episode, I go through some of the details of what surfaces in an interview conducted after that press conference.

Podcast information will always be available on the podcast index.

TLEP #036: A DOOMed Sequel To The CGS?

I feel particularly stuck in a rut, lately. Here’s a somewhat accurate description of how that feels, thanks to Bill Wurtz:

I didn’t feel super confident about recording this episode of the podcast because I didn’t pay attention to esports this weekend since I was playing the single-player campaign of DOOM and hooooooooooo boy it is the fucking truth, friends.

keekerdc v. Kluwe

Internet cool person keekerdc is a skeptic about plenty of esports things from business practices to leagues. He voiced one such opinion in a tweet referencing Chris Kluwe’s recently penned call for an all-esports-league and for Kluwe himself to be crowned emperor of this new unified esports frontier.

Kluwe issued a challenge, and hooo boy did keek lay it on him.

I don’t want to say that Kluwe knows nothing about esports since he’s an advocate whose support esports-as-a-whole benefits from, but I think he’s gone off the deep end with his call to found a One World Esport.

Also, among other cool things that happened today: Kluwe and I went back and forth on Twitter about this, albeit briefly. (I’d link it here, but it’s not like anything I said was the best form of my argument.) I was not trying to troll him or antagonize him, but I felt I needed more context in order to piece together how he thinks that by essentially reviving the CGS the current esports curfluffle could be righted.

I admit that I lack the imagination to see the solution as he states it and I’ll also admit that Twitch and YouTube being vectors that the CGS never had that could make such an experiment worth investigating is a real thing, but he wasn’t able to convince me–though I’m not the one that needs convincing.

I reckon it’d take at least a billion dollars in cash to get these corporate publishers to hand over their in-house leagues or completely buy out the other tournament organizers who run publisher-sanctioned events.

In my estimation, you either support the One World Esport or not. Personally, I can’t see the scene devolve into a monopoly, regardless of how hard some are willing to try.

WESA goes live, Reddit AmA underway

It begins.

There’s a Reddit thread on r/globaloffensive promising official answers to user questions. I’ve got one in there near the top of the list, but there’s some great questions being asked. Here’s hoping we get some genuine answers from the people behind the WESA scheme. Sadly, the press conference wasn’t streamed for some awful fucking reason, I’m sure, but we’ll be getting some sort of highlight reel this weekend, according to the WESA spokeshole running their Twitter account.

Here’s some of the finer tweets that came across my timeline regarding this morning’s announcement:

And then there’s this gem from the Reddit thread, where the WESA founders AMA hasn’t started yet:


Sky News thinks the WESA wants to emulate FIFA but that’s not entirely true

Today’s 1300Z press conference will, supposedly, answer a lot of questions about what the World Esports Association is supposed to be. Dexerto broke with details with an interesting tidbit of opinion.

The Dexerto report is largely a repost of an article Sky News is running before the press conference scheduled for today, and it confirms a few details based on the step and repeat leaked earlier this week.

First, no publisher is on board yet, but Sky News notes that negotiations are underway to court as many of the major esport developers as possible. Without publishers, as the article notes, their major leagues and tournaments such as Riot’s LCS and Valve’s International will be beyond the reach of this new organization’s control.

Secondly, they intend for this organization to control all of esports, even if the organization they’re modeling (FIFA) only controls one sport, otherwise there’s no need to confirm that they’re looking to negotiate with publishers–plural. If they were going to keep WESA’s focus on CS:GO, they’d be talking about a single publisher, Valve–and probably getting nowhere trying to take the Majors out of their hands–especially when they usually end up operating two out of the three yearly Majors.

I just don’t understand how the teams and players are willing to accept the nonsense of WESA when they know full well that they’ll be giving up not only their ability to freely choose which events they want to participate in, but the rest of their rights as well. How ESL have gotten away with pulling the wool over these teams’ eyes is beyond me.

I doubt there’s any level of transparency that WESA can offer to show that will definitively prove that they intend to be a force for good in esports.