Esports Are Coming For Your TV

By – Trevor Shanahan

In 2016 eSports will come for your TV.  Turner Broadcasting has a formed a partnership with the WME IMG groups.  Turner Studios, based in Atlanta, will become the heart for east coast eSports activity.  Planned offerings like live fan events, high quality live digital event coverage, content extensions, and exclusive TBS content.  Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) will be the game featured during the league’s first season.  2016 is slated to have two tournaments (both televised) built on 10-week timeframes and shown on Friday nights.  The press release states this is the most extensive commitment to date for televised eSports programming.

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Supportive content will manifest as digital eSports competitions and daily events held Tuesday through Friday weekly during tournament times.  Friday events will have digital and app support to provide more immersive and complete user/viewer experiences.


Here are some shameless quotes from the press release:


“eSports is one of the fastest growing entertainment genres among young adults around the world,” said Lenny Daniels, president of Turner Sports. “We’re looking forward to creating a tremendous live event atmosphere, leveraging the infrastructure and expertise within Turner Studios, and presenting the competitions in an innovative way throughout our portfolio of leading brands.”


“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.”


“The eSports environment is purpose-built for a generation that consumes content across multiple platforms and seeks unique live experiences,” said Mark Shapiro, chief content officer, WME | IMG. “We’re proud to be partnering with Turner to give competitive gaming a first-of-its-kind platform to meet the needs of the industry’s growing fan base and attract new audiences around the world.”


“WME | IMG is constantly seeking new ways to help fans enjoy the eSports they love and attract more fans to the sport,” said Tobias Sherman, head of WME | IMG’s eSports division. “This venture is a great example of our commitment to growing the eSports industry, and Turner is the perfect partner to make this a reality. We’ve so enjoyed working with Valve and the teams through this endeavor, and we’re excited for the future.”


I only say “shameless” because they would obviously be optimistic and self-promoting (it being their press release and all), but that isn’t a bad thing.  These quotes and the overall press release represent a claim about eSports’ future in both entertainment and competition.  It is possible that this is a knee-jerk move to ESPN’s airing of eSports, but it is probable that this is the end result of calculated research and analysis into viewer interests and media trends.

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No Mans Sky creator Sean Murray on the Colbert Late Show.


Aside from ESPN, we could look at the Late and Late Late show guest and segment lists for the last few years.  Stephen Colbert especially, in his short time as CBS Late Show host has doubled down on video game released guests and acts.  Jimmy Fallon famously embraces video games in preview and early access show segments.  Conan O’Brien has retargeted his audience with a move to TBS and an open arm embrace of video game “let’s play” segments and guests.  There are many more examples across television, but the message is the same: games may just be a big (and the next big) thing.

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Fallon with Microsoft’s Phil Spencer.


Set your DVRs and Betamax players for “record” or tune-in, because we may be witnessing a historical shift in both television and culture.



About the blogger

ccccccMy name is Trevor Shanahan and I am finishing my undergraduate degree in Marketing with a minor in Media Studies.  I am interested in video games and everything they touch (their industry, development, games as art, psychology of games – like gamification, industry issues, culture, etc.).  I have come to realize that the more I learn (and learning is so important) the more I do not know.  Learn as much as you can about what you love and   try to give back to it.