Riot Games, the creator of League of Legends, has recently bolstered their streaming services for the future. This includes targeting their collegiate audience as well as a major TV network deal to promote their content in the future.
— League of Legends (@LeagueOfLegends) January 19, 2017
As eSports continues to rise in popularity on major college campuses, one of the primary conferences in the United States, the Big Ten, is expanding the collegiate thresholds in a significant way.
Together with Riot Games, the Big Ten Network is creating a two-month League of Legends tournament. A dozen of the 14 schools in the Big Ten, including Michigan, Ohio State, and Rutgers, will participate in the inaugural BTN League of Legends season.
Teams will consist of six people, five starters and one alternate, and will be organized as student clubs. Unlike in the LCS, players won’t be required to travel as all games will be hosted online.
The Big Ten Network tested the growing market for eSports with an invitational between Ohio State and Michigan State last April and decided a bigger investment was warranted.
The eSports matches will stream on both BTN2GO, BTN’s digital arm, as well as Riot’s online network. The March 27th championship will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network’s cable channel, and the winner will advance to the League of Legends College Championship.
While both sides declined to provide financial terms of the one-year licensing agreement, Michael Sherman, president of Riot’s collegiate division, said that Riot will produce a lot of the content and operate the league. Riot and Scholarship America will provide each player a $5,000 academic scholarship.
The Pac-12, another major conference, is also looking into broadcasting eSports competitions on their TV network.
— League of Legends (@LeagueOfLegends) December 16, 2016
BAMTech, a Major League Baseball streaming platform that is backed by Disney, has just announced a multiyear deal with Riot to deliver exclusive eSports content directly related to their flagship game, League of Legends.
BAMTech has stated they will be launching new ways to spectate and participate in eSports, starting with League of Legends in 2017. The company will pay Riot $300 million through 2023 for the exclusive rights to distribute and develop LoL content, create and promote eSports tournaments, and sell marketing ads and sponsorship deals.
Riot released an official statement on their website:
Today we’re thrilled to announce Riot Games and BAMTech have entered into a first-of-its-kind long-term commercialization partnership to deliver professional League of Legends esports content in regions around the world. We will be working closely with BAMTech to grow revenue in our sport through various means, including sponsorship and advertising. Beginning next year, we’ll also be collaborating to push the boundaries of the esports viewing experience, leveraging BAMTech’s best-in-class technology to create additional possibilities and opportunities for fans to access, and connect with, League of Legends.
Disney also owns sports broadcasting giant ESPN, which has just recently launched an eSports section last year. With this new investment, ESPN is planning to launch a new eSports consumer subscription service.