Opinion: Broadcast Rights are the Play for New Esports CDNs

by Kevin Knocke

Esports broadcast rights are big, big business now.

With the recent announcement that Riot Games would be selling the broadcast rights (non-exclusive, by the way) to BAMTech for at least $300 million guaranteed until 2023, companies started to notice esports broadcasts a bit more. At least some of the speculation around the recent PEA drama is that PEA and Twitch were trying to grab exclusive CS:GO broadcast rights away from ESL and the ESL Pro League.


Well, as has been recently revealed, the EPL has evidently signed an agreement with the newly relaunched YouTube Gaming platform to exclusively stream there.

That's right, no EPL on Twitch at all. It remains to be seen how this will be viewed by the community, as similar efforts in the past have been met with a lot of resistance.

In the past, whenever companies attempted to challenge the Twitch streaming empire, they've attempted to poach streamers or games (notably MLG taking the entire Call of Duty community with it a few years ago which Nadeshot called the biggest mistake of his career). Overall though, this has been less than successful. Twitch has a unique community feel to it, and it's unlikely any other providers can replicate that, at least in the short term.

But big professional esports events, while they've historically lived on Twitch in the past, do not really have that same community feel. That's not to say they're worse in any way, but they're obviously more like big traditional sports events and broadcasts than anything else.

And now with organizations like YouTube Gaming buying exclusive rights to the EPL, expect others to follow suit in this way. Long term, expect it to be much more viable for companies like YouTube, Facebook, even ESPN to establish esports broadcast presences by going after major events and leaving personal streaming to the more community focused organizations like Twitch.

Also, if the EPL manages to become the major, overwhelming CS:GO league (which got a huge boost this week when the PEA suspended their plans to operate a CS:GO league entirely), expect its broadcast partners to make a concerted effort to make the EPL the exclusive CS:GO league so they can build out regular exclusive programming around it, just like the NFL or NBA.

More esports influencing from Knocke: Shut it Down, SeeBotsChat is the Funniest Stream of the Year | Backroom Deals Could Kill CS:GO | 2017 Will Bring Weird Esports Peripherals