eSports has seen an incredible rise in popularity recent years, so much so than an entire channel dedicated to competitive gaming popped up in Europe last year. And now, that channel is coming to America for the first time.
The channel is ESL TV, operated by the world’s largest eSports company, Electronic Sports League. It will be available to PlayStation Vue subscribers who have either the Elite package for $54.99 a month or the Ultra package for $74.99 a month. And while that’s certainly not cheap, it’s still less than most basic cable packages.
ESL TV launched in May 2016, and quickly racked up millions of viewers in Europe, but that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the potential global audience.
Steven Roberts, the executive chairman of ESL, said “EsportsTV is the perfect complement to the PlayStation Vue offering, and represents just another step for eSports as a form of mainstream entertainment.”
Just how “mainstream” can eSports be? If you believe estimates from Activate, competitive gaming will soon have a larger following than any American sports league. Digital video game matches could account for 10% of sports viewing in the USA, they say. More fans for the League of Legends finals than the World Series? Experts think so.
As far as ESL TV on Vue goes though, it could be tough to get traction. Most major eSports tournaments are already show live on Twitch or YouTube. So why would a fan shell out more than $50 for Vue service? It’s likely this channel alone won’t attract any people to sign up for Vue. But if they’re already there, they’ll likely tune it.
The ESL network is a natural fit for the PlayStation Vue service, so it’s nice to see it being added. And it eSports continues to rise at the rate it is, it could end up being good for everyone involved.
ESL TV should should launch in time for thestart of the Intel Extreme Masters tour, which is IEM Sydney in Australia on May 4.