ESPN To Cover Competitive Video Gaming

from the next-up-on-the-ocho dept

ESPN has entered into a multiyear agreement with Major League Gaming to provide exclusive online coverage of MLG’s upcoming video game competitions. The online coverage is a natural fit for gaming, however, this relationship could segue into more regular coverage on ESPN’s television channels. ESPN already regularly covers non-traditional “sports” on its television channels now, from poker to the national spelling bee, so seeing coverage of video game tournaments is not a huge stretch. Video gaming is one of the most popular activities for the young male set, and ESPN is responding to the changing interests of its key demographic. Last year, the USA network aired the MLG finals, and more recently, MLG gamers are starting to appear regularly on ESPN’s “Cold Pizza” morning show. The allure of professional gaming has been around since the dawn of video games (remember The Wizard?). Korea (the site of the first world cyber games) leads the charge, with its professional video gamers making good money as early as 2003. That said, professional video gaming is still dwarfed by professional sports (and even professional poker), so it still remains uncertain whether or not it will ever grow to have wide appeal, or if it will remain a relative niche spectator interest.

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Companies: espn, mlg

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Comments on “ESPN To Cover Competitive Video Gaming”

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AMP says:

Re: Re:

John, “THis seems like one of those “connecting to today’s youth” ideas” – I think that is exactly what this is. I think coverage of the x games was exactly the same thing when they started it.

“But if it means I don’t have to listen to Skip Bayless, then I don’t care.” – Hilarious, I couldn’t agree more. Whatever gives me less Skip Bayless I am all for!

Francis says:

Re: Re:

I for one would definitely like to watch people playing a certain competitive video game I like. When I say watch people playing I don’t mean the camera viewing just the players themselves. I’m talking about action on the tv screen. For a guy who’s had experience practicing with tourney players I’ve seen a lot of strategy and mind games that are implemented and really it’s really hard work to catch up to their level of game play.

It’s a good thing that ESPN has this already but they need to expand in terms of more game genres.

4-80-sicks says:

Re: Role Models?

decent gamer role models and the kiddies will stop being bitches online.

That would be nice, but I doubt it. Witness Fatal1ty.

The Wizard was hardly the dawn of video gaming, Dennis. By about 20 years, or more. But it’s a good example, even though it was just a giant commercial for Super Mario Bros. 3. Check out the history of Twin Galaxies if you’d like to see some older history of competitive video gaming, or watch the [related] movie The King of Kong, which was only made last year but covers events with their roots in the early 80s.

I think it’s kind of silly, but it’s good that ESPN is doing this. They are recognizing their actual market (competition), instead of focusing on their surface market (sports). But sports aren’t exactly going away. Too bad industries that are actually struggling can’t do the same.

JtB says:

MLG > Poker

Professional poker is a joke. I remember the first time I saw poker being played and was dumbfounded to realize that a network was actually broadcasting some guys playing friggin cards! IMO poker isn’t even technically a game of skill, once you know the hands and what to look for it’s 80 percent luck. Professional video game tournaments would be much more thrilling in comparison to some lame a$$ card game. I liked watching the occasional episode of Arena although the commentary was occasionally nauseating. Heck I remember watching Nick Arcade when I was younger and thinking it was a pretty lame show, but I still watched it occasionally.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Great… now people are gonna get paid to be fat, wtf is this world coming too?”

You’re right. Let’s stop paying those engineers and programmers, too: they need to do real work in industries like construction.

To everyone criticizing this because video games aren’t “interesting” to watch, what makes a traditional sport interesting to watch? I for one never grew up with sports fans, and as such I cannot even faintly enjoy spectating. I enjoy playing some, but somehow watching them is just pushing it, and I think people only enjoy watching sports largely for the solidarity benefits. Similarly, as video games are increasing in popularity, its not at all hard to imagine a society so excited about watching competitive gaming (just like at South Korea), and it really has little to do with the activity: people will watch for a sense of being part of a “team.”

meowN says:

Has nobody seen the current professional videogame league, with all player’s salaries starting at $30k/year + winnings/endorsements? The games are broadcast live on DirectTV with announcers/commentator/the whole deal.

They just completed their first season i believe, and it was so successful they are expanding for the next season.

There certainly is a market for this, and they’re just trying to fit into it.

FiestasBenalmadena (user link) says:


Reading your replies makes me wonder if you are really serious about what you post about.

How can anyone be against televised video game competition?

At least chances are if you watch an online game you probably play the same game and learn from the pros. If you’re at home watching NFL on a Sunday chances are you don’t play football thus are learning nothing you can apply from it.


Party in Benalmadena, meet singles and hook up!

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Games on TV

I am one hell of a video gamer.
Thats for sure. I play tons of games spanning many genres and systems all the time.
But I don’t watch TV.
And I don’t even really like watching games be played by others unless its a cooperative thing where I will have a turn (or multiplayer is even better).
I have never enjoyed watching any sport for that matter.
I don’t feel involved enough.
Its too lazy / mind numbing.

Jeremy says:

Anyone remember "Tommy"?

That lame 70’s professional pinball player MUSICAL? That’s what popped into my mind upon reading the piece and the comments. Soon we’ll be treated to a feature length film about a gaming wizard’s fall from grace and eventual redemption where he/she learns an important lesson about himself on his way to gaming greatness. (Sing it now!) He sure plays a mean Halo3!

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