BBC 3 is making the foray into eSports and will begin broadcasting four hours of live-tournaments starting this weekend.
In the ‘first deal of its kind’ for the broadcast giant, the BBC is joining up with Gfinity Elite League Series One to bring viewers action from Street Fighter, Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and Rocket League.
The event will run for ten weeks, and will see 160 pro-players compete for a £225,000 cash prize. Each game will receive a dedicated day of coverage, with Street Fighter airing on Fridays at 20:45 BST, CS:GO on Saturdays at 21:00 BST, Rocket League on Sundays at 17:00 BST.
Gfinity CEO Neville Upton commented on the partnership, saying:
“This is an incredible moment for the Gfinity Elite Series and for eSports fans in the UK and internationally. Our partnership with BBC Three will bring Elite Series live and lifestyle content to millions of new viewers and showcase the incredible dedication and passion of professional gamers.
“We are extremely excited to announce to all of our fans, players and partners that for the next six consecutive weeks the Elite Series will be broadcast live on BBC Three. The BBC is one of the world’s most renowned and respected broadcasters and their commitment to the Gfinity Elite Series is a defining moment for eSports and we are very proud to be a part of it.”
Damian Kavanagh, Controller at BBC said:
“eSports has become hugely popular in the last few years with young audiences so it’s great that BBC 3 can bring this to a mainstream audience and create new habits with younger audiences as we stream three of the most popular games on BBC Three across the weekend.”
In addition to live matches, BBC 3 will be airing exclusive lifestyle segments and editorial coverage focusing on the players and their storylines.
BBC 3 is an online-only channel geared towards the younger demographic.
WHAT IS ESPORTS?
eSports is organised, competitive computer (or console) gaming that is usually staged in front of a live, or streaming, audience. Participants, or ‘pro-gamers’, often compete in teams for the chance to win a cash prize. At the League of Legends World Championships last year – the biggest global eSports event – the winning team shared a prize pot of $1m (£810,000).
Forecasters predicted in March that eSports will generate more than £1b in revenue and double its audience to 600m by 2020. Peter Warman of eSports analysts Newzoo said that it had “the potential to become one of the top five sports in the world.”
A number of big-name football clubs, including Paris St. Germain and Manchester City, have established their own eSports teams in an attempt to tap into the burgeoning market.
WHO ARE GFINITY?
Launched in 2013, Gfinity is a UK-based eSports company with a global audience. Established by gaming enthusiasts, Gfinity want to help push eSports in the UK to a professional level.
ESPORTS IN SCOTLAND
Scotland has developed its own eSports scene, with events such as Resonate Total Gaming hosting a three-day LAN festival in Glasgow lat year. Last week’s Insomnia X Resonate event also saw competitors battle it out on the main floor, and the upcoming 4TG Game Con will feature a number of tournaments including Overwatch and CS:GO.