Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) and WME | IMG have formed a new strategic partnership to create an eSports competitive gaming league.
Turner, which has been working on expanding its core strengths, and WME | IMG will deliver content for all platforms, including premium live fan experiences, televised coverage, and live digital event coverage and content extensions.
eSports is a term used to refer to organised, multiplayer video gaming competitions, which are rapidly expanding in popularity on a global scale. According to data provided by NewZoo, global eSports viewership is more than 226 million people, with the total expected to climb to 323 million by 2018.
Slated to begin in 2016, the televised presentation of the competitive gaming events will feature 10 consecutive weeks of programming twice per year, airing Friday nights on TBS. This will include a regular season, playoffs and championship. Video game publisher Valve’s popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will be the featured game during the league's first season.
Additionally, digital coverage will include live daily competitive gaming content distributed from Tuesday to Friday during each tournament week.
"We are proud to establish a leadership position in this rapidly growing arena, which I see as a tent pole for the next chapter of TBS," said Kevin Reilly, president of TBS and TNT, chief creative officer for Turner. "The level of rabid fandom and engagement that we see in this world is extraordinary and we aim to up the experience for both the players and fans alike and provide a cutting-edge live experience on both linear and digital TBS platforms."
Turner Studios in Atlanta will serve as the headquarters for the new league and primary operations facility for the live gaming experience. Turner Sports will produce the eSports competitions in association with WME | IMG, and will facilitate ad sales and sponsorship opportunities surrounding the new league.
The addition of eSports competitive gaming is one of many live events set to air on TBS in early 2016. The network's Spring slate will also feature the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship Final Four, including TBS's first-ever telecast of the National Championship game, as well as the iHeartRadio Music Awards. TBS's upcoming live event programming will also include the first-ever Live Nation Music Awards – co-executive produced with IMG – in June and Turner Sports' annual coverage of the Major League Baseball Postseason in October.