Turner Broadcasting & WME | IMG partner to create eSports League

MUMBAI: Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and WME | IMG have formed a new strategic partnership to create an eSports competitive gaming league.


Through the venture, Turner and WME | IMG will deliver competitive gaming events for all platforms including premium live fan experiences, televised coverage airing exclusively on TBS and extensive, high quality live digital event coverage and content extensions. Turner Studios in Atlanta will become the East Coast epicenter for eSports competitive gaming, serving as the headquarters for the new league and primary operations facility for the live gaming experience.


Video game publisher Valve Corporation’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will be the featured game during the league’s first season. Turner Sports will produce the eSports competitions – in association with WME | IMG – and facilitate ad sales and sponsorship opportunities surrounding the new league.


All aspects of the eSports league – including the live event experience – will be jointly managed by Turner Broadcasting and WME | IMG, with Turner Studios providing a state-of-the-art facility specifically created to showcase the live gaming competitions. Slated to begin in 2016, the televised presentation of the competitive gaming events will feature 10 consecutive weeks of programming twice per year – the most extensive commitment to televised eSports programming to date – airing Friday nights on TBS.


In 2016, eSports tournaments will be televised twice per year with each 10-week period including a regular season, playoffs and championship. Both tournaments will include eSports teams facing off in competition while playing Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.


Additionally, digital coverage will include live daily competitive gaming content distributed Tuesday through Friday during each tournament week, as well as a live digital companion experience on Friday nights offered simultaneously with the TBS presentation. Digital content will also include behind-the-scenes event coverage and profiles on the eSports teams and competitors, with additional eSports coverage available through Bleacher Report’s top-rated Team Stream App.


“eSports is one of the fastest growing entertainment genres among young adults around the world. 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,” said Turner Sports president Lenny Daniels.


“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. 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,” said Turner chief creative officer and TBS and TNT president Kevin Reilly.


“The eSports environment is purpose-built for a generation that consumes content across multiple platforms and seeks unique live experiences. 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,” added WME | IMG chief content officer Mark Shapiro. 


“WME | IMG is constantly seeking new ways to help fans enjoy the eSports they love and attract more fans to the sport. 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,” said WME | IMG’s eSports division head Tobias Sherman.


eSports is a term used to refer to organized, multiplayer video gaming competitions that 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. 


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.

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