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eSPORTS IN THE NEW DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM NAB Show® | April 22- 27 | Las Vegas| NABShow.com eSports is big business. New content channels streaming live video game play are launching global fan communities and creating new revenue models. Hear from industry experts including Eric Brunner, Twitch and Eric Black, NBC Sports Digital & Playmaker Media. Additional highlights include Connected Car Hackathon, Virtual & Augmented Reality Pavilion and Facebook Live Pavilion.
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CYNOPSISeSPORTS & GAMING
03.23.17 It’s Thursday, March 23, 2017, and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.
DreamHack and Twitch are renewing their vows, announcing yesterday that the two companies would continue a partnership this year that began in 2009. Audiences will be able to tune into Twitch to watch all of DreamHack’s premium esports content live, including DreamHack ASTRO Open, DreamLeague, DreamHack Masters and the DreamHack Hearthstone Grand Prix circuit as part of the agreement, with 11 major events on the schedule in 2017, including DreamHack Austin on April 28. In addition, 2017 DreamHack will be partnering with Twitch on Russian coverage. The move comes in addition to DreamHack’s recent deal with Twitter to also stream its events.
“DreamHack is not only one of our longest running partners, they are immensely popular among the Twitch community,” said Stuart Saw, Director of Esports Strategy, Twitch. “As the esports industry continues to evolve, DreamHack has been at the forefront of the movement with our partnership enabling them to reach a global audience. We look forward to another year of sharing their incredible content with the passionate esports fanbase on Twitch.”
Monday sees BTN will carry its first live esports match in network history as Maryland squares off against Illinois in the BTN League of Legends Championship. The match takes place at the NA LCS Battle Theater in Los Angeles and can be seen on BTN2Go. The inaugural season of the conference’s esports foray saw a dozen schools compete, with seven matches streamed across BTN2Go, Facebook and Twitch to generate more than 2 million unique viewers. “Given that this pilot program was uncharted territory across the college sports television landscape, we are extremely pleased with the results and we learned a great deal in the process,” said Erin Harvego, BTN Vice President of Marketing. “We are also thrilled with the visibility this provided to so many hardworking students and club members and hope to be able to showcase their talents in the future.”
ELeague cemented its talent lineup for its upcoming Street Fighter V Invitational, locking in Richard Lewis as host with Malik Forte serving as reporter for the event. Casters and analysts are set to include: Stephen “Sajam” Lyon, Reepal “Rip” Parbhoo, Steve “Tasty Steve” Scott, and “Zhi” Liang Chew. Competitive play on TBS begins April 7.
FACEIT’s Esports Championship Series has a new home, departing Twitch for YouTube Gaming courtesy of a new exclusive multiyear deal. The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league will now start streaming with the ECS Promotion matches starting March 25 on FACEIT’s YouTube channel. YouTube Gaming will also work with players to help grow their followings. "YouTube offers fans of the ECS an unmatched online viewing experience,” said Michele Attisani, Chief Business Officer and co-founder of FACEIT. “YouTube is by far the most watched platform for gamers in the world and continues to innovate and lead on video technology, making it a great place for us to call our new home for the Esports Championship Series.”
Ubisoft and ESL issued marching orders for the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Year 2 Pro League competition, which will begin on March 20 in North America. The second year of competition will include three seasons of Pro League and a grand final that will crown the global Rainbow Six Champion. At the end of each season, the top placing teams in Europe, North America and Brazil will compete head-to-head against one another at a live event with $100,000 in prize money on the line for the PC Season Finals.
iBUYPOWER unveiled its first event of the year with the iBUYPOWER Invitational Spring 2017. The online series runs April 1-2 as with eight North American teams battle for the $16,000 prize pool.
Psyonix announced that Rocket League will now serve up its new Dropshot mode, as well as a new esports “Live Now” button on the main menu designed to notify players of official streams for the title.
CD Projeckt Red is taking its upcoming title GWENT: The Witcher Card Game straight into esports with a tournament being organized courtesy of a partnership with ESL. The tournament will pit 4 best players from the community against professional gamers with a total prize pool of $100,000 and play beginning April 8.
Source: Business Insider
Intel Extreme Masters saw its heavyweight tournament in Katowice, Poland generate 173,000 fans attending the stadium event and surrounding festival over the course of two weekends. Digitally, IEM Masters World Championship 2017 reached more than 46 million unique online viewers, for a 35% rise from last year’s event to rank as the most broadcasted event in ESL’s history, with 70 linear and digital partners worldwide who produced and distributed content in 19 languages. Intel and ESL’s partnership with SLIVER.tv and WonderWorld VR saw the VR stream score 200% growth in peak concurrent viewers compared to IEM’s first virtual reality live stream in Oakland, with 340,000 unique viewers tuning into the VR broadcast.
Weekly updates for our upcoming Cynopsis World Esports Summit, set to take place on April 12 in NYC. Just ahead of the advertising upfronts, the event will see a slew of brands/media buyers in attendance interested in partnering in the esports space, along with our A-list lineup of speakers, exclusive research, breaking news and more! Tickets are going fast and the event will sell out so click here for more information and to get tickets now.
As esports continue to surge, what challenges await our heroes on the road ahead? Is consolidation inevitable? How will media investment impact the industry? Find out with our opening panel, “Esports: What’s Next?” featuring an all-star panel that includes ESL’s Craig Levine, ELeague’s Christina Alejandre, WorldGaming’s Wim Stocks; MLG’s Pete Vlastelica and Amazon Games’ Jonathan Pan, as well as Stan Press from Magid Advisors as moderator.
Esports heavyweight Cloud9 announces that it had closed a Series A financing round with investments, led by a slate of athletes and tech moguls. Leading the pack is Daniel Fiden of FunPlus Ventures, with investors that also include: Giants outfielder Hunter Pence; Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian; HOF QB Joe Montana; former NBA center Andrew Bogut; and Warriors co-owner Chamath Palihapitiya.
Fnatic unveiled a strategic partnership with Chinese esports agency, B.O.O.T, at the 2017 China Cup, with the agreement designed to help the organization “better engage with a growing Chinese audience and expand its footprint in Asia.” "We are very excited to launch this strategic partnership with B.O.O.T, and we look forward to pushing the global boundaries of esports together,” said Patrik Sattermon, Fnatic’s Chief Gaming Officer. “Fnatic and B.O.O.T share the same vision of making esports more global, and this partnership will allow us to bridge the gap and close the distance between Western and Eastern esports."
Overwatch has spawned another contender with the launch of Laser Kittenz. The team will bring in former players of Bench Boys with other names in a move to claim a spot in Overwatch League, according to ESPN. CEO and founder Ali "Alicus" Saba will oversee operations with a debut in the European leg of the Overwatch PIT Championship.
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The entry of Eleven Sports into the US television market, taking over for ONE World Sports, will open another door for esports content providers. Anthony Bailey, Senior Vice President of parent company Aser Media stated that the network will focus on Millennials, noting that, “E is a big part of our strategy. We are looking hard at esports, we are looking at sports that do well with the college crowd such as Ultimate Frisbee, rugby and of course esports. Esports has a very dedicated following and if done right, that following could make it a big homerun. But that is definitely one of the rights we will be announcing here soon.”
IMG detailed plans to launch Boomeo, described as “a web-based esports platform featuring premium gaming content and exclusive educational tutorials from top esports teams and professionals.” The platform will see five professional esports organizations – Cloud9, compLexity, Counter Logic Gaming, G2 Esports and SK Gaming – as well as pro players and influencers including Spencer ‘Hiko’ Martin, Eric ‘Adren’ Hoag, Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields, partnering to serve up exclusive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive instructional content for the platform. Check out our interview about the platform below.
Facebook is taking on game streaming, announcing that user personal accounts will now be able to live stream videos funneled via the Live button on the desktop status update composer, potentially allowing content producers to add on-screen graphics, titles, and overlays.
Newborn Indian esports league UCypher has already landed a national distribution partner within the country, inking a deal with MTV India as the league begins its first season in April. The organization will also be carried on YouTube and Twitch with season one of the bi-annual league run by USports and featuring six teams, vying for CS:GO and DOTA 2.
With Boomeo open for business, wrangling talent from the likes of Cloud9, compLexity, Counter Logic Gaming, G2 Esports and SK Gaming to serve up exclusive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive instructional content for the platform. Cynopsis Esports spoke with Simon Abitbol – IMG Esports, Founder of Boomeo – about the company’s new platform, how it fits into WME/IMG’s big picture and what we can expect moving forward.
Abitbol on the birth of Boomeo: As a Counter-Strike player, I was watching some free tutorials and after watching this 25-minute video, I ended up learning this one little nugget of information from a 30-second portion of it that ended up helping me win my next ten games that I played on that map. I learned so much from that little bit but I realized I didn’t need to watch that entire video to pick up that tip. That started the snowball that eventually became Boomeo, in that there had to be a better way to learn, train and warm up.
On production: We’ve partnered with some of the best teams and players in the world, not only from a scale level, but also from an ability to convey their knowledge in a way that was easily digestible. So we’ve build out a module for each map as well as one for fundamentals. For each map, we then broke down its module into each strategy, i.e. how to play a pistol round, teaching fundamentals. We then broke those down even further into six videos for each strategy so someone can jump right into all the tricks of how to play it.
On how Boomeo fits into the WME/IMG strategy: Esports fits really well with WME/IMG as a whole, which include ELeague and our other endeavors. With Boomeo, as it relates to the larger esports division, it can play a supportive role in the business, allowing us to do some things that help our other businesses as another tool in the toolbox.
On monetizing: Our main business model is obviously subscriptions but we do provide a tremendous amount of free content though on the front end through articles and free guides. Those are already driving some nice traffic. We also provide free audio versions of all of our content so you can queue them up on your favorite podcast app and listen to them in your car on the way home. Ultimately, however, there will be a tremendous amount of advertising opportunities as well but our primary focus will be on the premium content.
On Duels: We have a lot of features coming down the pike for our gameplay training mode, which allows users to go from content to gameplay very quickly and then being provided stats, etc. to show how they did. Duels was created because for 18 years now, players have been warming up on Deathmatch, which can suck because you get shot in the back half the time, or you are shooting other people in the back for the other half. It is not effective training, whereas Duels puts you in real situations in real maps to provide drilling 20 times a minute.
Machinima is getting an overhaul at the top with news that CEO Chad Gutstein would be departing to pursue entrepreneurial projects while Russell Arons was named general manager of the company. Arons most recently was SVP of worldwide marketing for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and will now oversee Machinima’s creative, marketing services, data analytics and business development and operations, as well as the Machinima multichannel network.
Blizzard is bringing Hearthstone caster TJ Sanders in-house, where he will now join the game’s eSports Broadcasting and Production team. On Reddit, he posted that he “Just wanted to come and make it clear some of the things I’ll be doing at Blizzard. I’ll be working specifically on broadcasts – which means building player stories and being creative with media and show segments for most of Blizzard’s Hearthstone shows. I’ll also still be casting for the HCT, and working closely with casters leading up to shows to help deliver the best narratives.”
Telltale Games CEO Kevin Bruner is departing the company, which will now see former CEO Dan Connors return to the role, according to GameSpot.
ON THIS DAY in 2003: Nintendo releases the Game Boy Advance SP in North America.
Trivia: The game Batman: Arkham Knight sees the death of Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley, better known by what name? (Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: In which game are players welcomed by Harth Stonebrew, aka the Innkeeper? Answer: Hearthstone. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Bill Domeika-ESL/NYC; Danny Araque/NY; Gabrielle Pedro Fredrick-National Geographic/DC; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.
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