Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and WME-IMG have formed a partnership to create a competitive eSports gaming league, the companies said Thursday.
Through this venture, Turner and WME-IMG will host competitive gaming events for all platforms, including live fan experiences, TV coverage broadcast exclusively on TBS, live digital event coverage and expansions of contents. Turner Studios in Atlanta will become the East Coast epicenter for competitive eSports games, serving as the headquarters for the new league.
The popular “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” from video game publisher Valve Corporation will be the star game for the league’s first season. Turner Sports will produce the eSports competitions in association with WME-IMG and facilitate advertising sales and sponsorship opportunities around the new league.
All aspects of the eSports League will be jointly managed by Turner Broadcasting and WME-IMG, with Turner Studios providing a state-of-the-art facility specially created to present the gaming competitions live.
Scheduled to begin in 2016, the televised presentation of competitive gaming events will feature 10 consecutive weeks of twice-yearly programming, the largest commitment to eSports television programming to date. The league will air Friday nights on TBS and will feature a regular season, playoffs and championship.
Additionally, digital coverage will include live daily competitive game content distributed Tuesday through Friday during each tournament week, as well as a live digital companion experience on Friday night offered concurrently with the TBS showcase. Digital content will also include behind-the-scenes event coverage and profiles on eSports teams and competitors, with additional coverage available through Bleacher Report’s top-rated Team Stream app.
eSports is a term used to refer to the organized multiplayer video game competitions that are rapidly gaining popularity globally. According to data provided by NewZoo, the global eSports audience is over 226 million people and the total is expected to reach 323 million by 2018.
Nationally, the eSports audience is currently 32 million people with an expected growth of over 50 million by 2017. More than half of adult eSports viewers are under 35, according to one Superdata eSports Market Brief released earlier this year.
More details on the new esports league will be announced later this year.