With the announcement at The Game Awards 2015 that Turner and WME | IMG will partner to create a professional eSports league, named the ELEAGUE, there came a moment of exuberance at the prospect of, to put it in Turner’s words:
For the first time in gaming history, in addition to over 30 hours of weekly competition streamed live digitally, eSports will be exhibited regularly on a fully-distributed national television platform, TBS, and will be staged, produced and promoted in a manner reflective of other major traditional American sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball.
Ring the bells of joy! eSports is finally going “mainstream!”.
But wait. Here are the top five reasons that the E-League will be a massive failure and likely won’t last past the first year.
MLB, NFL, NBA, and all other major sports leagues are dependent upon their superstars to bring in ratings.
No one watches an NBA game between the Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers, the public watches games because they want to see amazing individual play by the sport’s stars. The E-League will highlight CSGO teams and this will fail. eSports will move to the next level of being a truly mainstream sport when it’s best players become stars and the select few of those stars become superstars. eSports is not there yet and without The SuperStar Draw, viewership on TBS and streaming will continue it’s path towards tepid growth.
No one wants to watch eSports on TV!
Hell, no one wants to watch anything tech related on TV. Remember G4? Tech TV? Young computer users consume their media on the …. wait for it …. COMPUTER! The overwhelming trend has the public “cutting the cord” of traditional television cable stations and consuming video on Netflix, HBO Go, and myriad other options on the Internet. You will not get the ratings that you need to sustain any type of advertising revenue on traditional television. A major production cannot sustain with the costs associated with “NBA level production values” purely through streaming content.
eSports is Global, E-League is Local.
eSports is a global phenomenon. From Sweden, to Germany, to Korea, and everywhere in between, the eSports generation has grown exponentially. eSports fans are diehard, no doubt. They are also not prone to viewing their content on a specific channel (which will only be available to American audiences) and at specific times. If the content on TBS is good, torrents will take over and eSports fans will consume the TBS broadcast via pirated means. Which, of course, means no ad revenue for Turner.
The eSports crowd doesn’t like “the man”.
Call it aversion to authority or just young people being young people but you will rarely find an eSports fan calling themselves “mainstream” and hoping that big corporations take over the scene. There are few companies bigger than Turner Networks and while some would see this move as a step towards legitimizing the eSports scene, others will undoubtedly fight back against corporate influence in the eSports world.
Too laser focused on CSGO.
CSGO has a huge following and community but it is not the most popular eSport. Games like DOTA 2 and League of Legends are far more popular with audiences and are completely ignored by E-League. If Turner runs afoul of the CSGO community or doesn’t fully understand how to engage that community then it’s demise will be even more swift than we’ve predicted.