Opinion: YouTube Going All-In on Online CS:GO Leagues

by Kevin Knocke

It looks like YouTube as well is going all-in on CS:GO broadcast rights as they get into the esports broadcasting world.

And unfortunately, it's picked up multiple CS:GO online leagues in a bid for that proverbial pot of gold at the end of the CS:GO broadcast rights' rainbow this column discussed yesterday.

It makes sense on a lot of levels.

YouTube needs to differentiate itself from Twitch. At the moment, the platform delivers basically the same feature set minus some community elements that Twitch brings to the table.

To YouTube's credit, the streams do look great and there's certainly nothing lacking from their core product but they're not necessarily bringing anything new to the table right now.

Where YouTube can separate itself from competitors is in the content delivered. Given that the ESL Pro League and ECS comprise the vast majority of the daily CS:GO content, YouTube aggressively partnering with both hedges their bets in the great CS:GO exclusivity war that continues to be fought.

If ESL comes out on top, great, YouTube has a two year deal in place and will be able to aggressively leverage that relationship in the future. If ECS wins, it's much the same.

However, this is the key: Between Turner and YouTube, Twitch is quickly losing much of their daily CS:GO content, the fastest expanding major esport in the world right now. Of course Turner is doing much of their daily broadcasts on Twitch, but their employees like Richard Lewis have rebuked efforts to consolidate the scene into one exclusive league.

And if rumors are true about Twitch possibly working with the PEA to develop an exclusive league, you can bet that other league providers are interested in distancing themselves from Twitch-exclusive contracts.

Now in the end, this does diversify the amount of providers broadcasting content, but in the short term it does seem to be harming viewership for online matches.

Of course, online matches themselves have come under a lot of scrutiny so this content runs the risk of being viewed as also-ran content where more and more focus is being put on offline matches and events.

As long as Twitch continues to have exclusive rights (or even partial nonexclusive rights given that most people watch there anyway) to those bigger offline events, the impact to fans won't be that great and fans won't show up in droves to YouTube without some key, differentiating features on the platform.

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