Hulu is taking the plunge into esports, announcing a deal for new original programming developed and produced by ESL. Overall, four unique series will be created exclusively for the streaming video-on-demand service—Player v. Player, Bootcamp, Defining Moments, and ESL Replay. “Esports is one of the fastest growing areas of media and entertainment, and, through this first-of-its-kind deal with ESL, we can now bring the popular world of esports to Hulu,” said Lisa Holme, Vice President of Content Acquisition, Hulu. “We know our viewers, especially those watching Hulu on consoles, are hungry for this type of content – so we’re excited to offer it on Hulu for the first time.” For more info, see out Q&A with ESL about the deal below.
MySports, a new sports channel operated by UPC in Switzerland, is set to bring the country’s first eSports format to Swiss TV audiences. Starting Oct. 23, episodes of the Arena esports show will be carries exclusively on the channel, serving up news on developments in the industry and reports on esports events.
Overwatch League unveiled its second team name and first in the US with the introduction of the Dallas Fuel. The Texas-based squad, from Team Envy, will continue the Boys in Blue tradition with colors that include blue, gray, and black with a logo that features an iconic blue flame set against a bold typeface announcing the team name. “We’re thrilled to bring a championship-caliber franchise to the area with the Dallas Fuel,” said Mike Rufail, the Texas-born owner and CEO of Team Envy. “In choosing a name, we wanted to speak to our Texas roots, connect with the legacy of our partners Ken Hersh and the Hersh Interactive Group, and provide a rallying cry for local fans as esports continues to grow. Fuel accomplishes that, and the Dallas Fuel is a team we’re proud to permanently plant in Texas.”
After trying and failing to secure a franchise in the upcoming Overwatch League, Rogue announced that it would be disbanding its Overwatch roster so that they could pursue opportunities with official teams. On September 20th the first twelve teams were confirmed for the league with Rogue not among the new team owners. Subsequently, the squad released a statement on Sunday, noting that “We did everything we could to get the team a spot in OWL, including procuring the buy-in money and going through the whole approval process. Unfortunately, we were not accepted for Season 1 and had no option but to break up the most accomplished Overwatch team in the game’s history so that the players could accept offers. We will continue to pursue putting together more great teams in the future and hope next time to be able to keep what we’ve worked so hard to build.”
Meanwhile, esports franchises continue to bulk up on PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds bodies. The latest transaction sees FlyQuest Sports, an esports organization owned by Fortress Investment Group co-founder and Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wes Edens, expanding into the title, picking up a new roster that will consist of Jonathan “Hetror” Bent, Dylan “Comet” Boden, Joseph “SomeThang” White, and Chris “Blue” Cofield. All formerly played under the name Off Constantly in both the Auzom and PUBG Online leagues. “We couldn’t be more excited to officially expand our reach to the most played game on Steam,” said FlyQuest General Manager Ryan Edens. “The sheer growth of the scene and the announcement of a large scale tournament at IEM Oakland is a sign of things to come. We feel the boys of Off Constantly give us the best chance to succeed while also giving back to the community as a whole.”
At least four teams from the Australian Football League are mulling a jump into esports, according to a FOX Sports report with Greater Western Sydney, West Coast, Essendon and Carlton all looking into opportunities, as is Port Adelaide. According to the article, research conducted by the AFL suggests that 21% of its fan base either has an interest in or watches esports regularly. Meanwhile, the AFL is looking to partner with a major video game publisher and providing expertise in areas like governance, fixturing and management.
Fnatic announced a strategic partnership with GamingZone Entertainment, the producers of reality TV show GAMERZ, that will see team members that win the GAMERZ show being placed on Fnatic’s CS:GO Academy team. Fnatic will work closely with GAMERZ, with key team personnel appearing on the show to coach the contenders.
TEAM SPOTLIGHT – TEAM SOLOMID
ELEAGUE locked in Kellogg’s Cheez-It brand as its newest sponsor. The deal will see the snack integrated into ELEAGUE digital, social and TV platforms as well as have a venue presence in arenas during live events. Finally, Cheez-It will also be the sponsor of the ELeague Players’ lounge. “Cheez-It has been a supporter of the gaming community for years now and we know consumers love to munch on Cheez-It while they’re playing their favorite games,” said Jeff Delonis, marketing director, Kellogg. “The partnership with Turner ELeague extends our presence in the world of gaming. Cheez-It Grooves deliver a bold flavor and big crunch that makes for the perfect snack while watching the excitement of esports.”
Nintendo is taking Mario on tour to drum up promotion for the upcoming Super Mario Odyssey launch for the Nintendo switch on Oct. 27. After launching this week from Universal CityWalk in LA, the tour will span Dallas, Chicago and Philadelphia before wrapping up on NY on Oct. 26. , Fans will have the chance to meet the Mario costumed character, take photos with him and his decked-out trailer, and get hands-on time with Super Mario Odyssey. “Super Mario Odyssey is all about travel, exploration and that feeling you get when you discover something new and exciting,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s President and COO. “Mario’s interactive journey in the real world is a great way for fans to get excited for the game’s launch by getting hands-on time, as well as following Mario as he explores and discovers locations all across the country.”
Blizzard announced that Muse would be hitting BlizzCon this year to close out the event on Nov. 4. “We’re thrilled to close out our 11th BlizzCon with a performance from one of rock’s greatest live acts,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Muse has wowed millions of people around the world with their groundbreaking music, and we’re excited that they’re coming to give BlizzCon attendees an epic sendoff.”
Bluehole hit PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has now topped 15 million copies sold despite remaining in early access, per SteamSpy via DualShockers. Earlier this week, GamesIndustry also reported that the title’s concurrent users on Steam had reached nearly 2 million the peak, easily topping Valve’s own Dota 2.
Meanwhile, fellow genre title Fortnite Battle Royale has now topped ten million players, according to Epic Games. Fortnite earlier this week peaked at 525,000 concurrent players with a total of 3.7 million active users in one day across all platforms.
Nielsen released a new report detailing the most anticipated video games for the upcoming holiday season. According to overall anticipation levels measured by Nielsen Game Rank, the most sought after games slated to hit the market between October and December 2017 cover fan-favorite franchises across a variety of genres. Have a gander below.
Ubisoft is reportedly repurchasing 4 million shares of the company as it seeks to stem off a takeover by Vivaldi. The buyback has already begun and should conclude by Dec. 29th with shares purchased in this manner set to be retired. Vivendi currently hold around 27% of Ubisoft shares, offering roughly 24% voting rights.
Egmont Publishing is teaming up with Roblox Corporation, for a partnership that will bring Roblox games, characters, worlds, avatars, developers and the Roblox community as a whole to life in a variety of books for Roblox fans. The first books will be released in the second half of 2018. Emma Cairns-Smith, Head of Global Acquisitions at Egmont Publishing said, “Roblox resonates with its millions of fans in a deep and powerful way and we believe that our outstanding publishing program will build that relationship even further. As the number one publisher of gaming titles for children and young adults, Egmont is thrilled to welcome the largest social gaming platform in the world to its list of partners.”
POWER PLAYERS – ESL’s Nik Adams
ESL’s recent content deal with Hulu isn’t the only platform turning to the world’s largest esports league for programming. Locking in a bevy of outlets, which also include the likes of Disney Channel, Facebook and Twitter, ESL’s newest quartet of shows are all developed and produced by ESL, and will premiere exclusively on Hulu later this fall. Player V. Player will serve as a gamified debate show with casters and esports influencers facing off over the hottest topics in esports. Bootcamp is a weekly docu-series that follows The Immortals, a top CS:GO team, as they rebuild their roster leading up to IEM Oakland. Defining Moments will “dive deep into the most impactful moments in esports history with passionate casters and analysts explaining what made these moments so monumental. Finally, ESL Replay is a fast-paced, condensed, documentary-style recap of the most memorable moments from four of the biggest multi-day esports tournaments in the world, including in-depth analyses and behind-the-scenes footage not part of the tournament live stream.
Cynopsis asked Nik Adams, Senior Vice President of Global Media Rights and Distribution, ESL, about the league’s expanding programming ventures.
Adams on Hulu: Hulu is the perfect partner for ESL. Hulu has recently been recognized for their own original programming and is looking to expand into series that extend into new genres of content. Additionally, both Hulu and ESL’s audiences are digitally savvy and range younger than the age demographics of linear television, making Hulu the perfect platform to build out ESL’s varied original content offering.
On expanding content: This latest deal with Hulu, following ESL’s deals with Twitter, Facebook, and Disney from earlier this year, is the next step in continuing to broaden the base of esports fans with original content that appeals to a more mass audience. ESL started producing successful content a year ago, with which we have found great success. ESL’s four original series for Hulu provide new ways of esports storytelling, opening up the industry to new fans.
On ESL’s approach: ESL receives many requests for new esports content. We also have a creative team split between our offices in Los Angeles, Germany and Stockholm who is constantly creating new concepts for esports shows and features. The content landscape is highly interested in esports industry programming.
On ESL Replay and ESL properties: ESL Replay will focus on ESL content, but will feature non-ESL content as well. This new show is centered around our sport—esports—and not our brand.
CORSAIR named Jason Glen Cahilly, former Chief Strategic & Financial Officer of the National Basketball Association, to the company’s Board of Directors. In the role, he will also consult with Andy Paul, CEO of the Company, and other senior executives on esports and other strategic initiatives.