Facebook to compete with Twitch as it signs deal with ESL

Facebook has landed a major deal with the Electronic Sports League (ESL) which will see 5 500 hours of events and original content added to the platform, The Wall Street Journal reports.

A report by Digiday earlier this year suggested that Facebook was looking to secure deals with major pro sports leagues, but it seems the company is sticking to digital for now.

The deal with ESL comes after the company secured deals with five esport teams (including G2 Esports, Echo Fox, and Team Dignitas) who will broadcast their practices and competitions exclusively to the site.

Facebook has been making the move towards producing original content for a while, after hiring former MTV executive Mina Lefevre as Head of Development, paying outlets like Buzzfeed and The New York Times to broadcast live, and making longer videos a priority.

Could Facebook be one of Twitch’s biggest competitors in the eSports streaming world?

But, as Digiday reported, Facebook has never had the budget to compete with major TV studios. Sticking to the realm of digital media, the company is able to compete with platforms like Twitch, where it should come out top in resources despite lacking the head start and loyal fan base.

Facebook seems aware of its pulling power, though: the deal with ESL is non-exclusive, proving that Facebook believes it can take on any of ESL’s other partners, despite sharing the same content.

The move comes at an opportune time for esports. SuperData estimates that the industry will value at US$1.1-billion by 2018, and that 303-million people will be engaging with it in 2019.

The official announcement from Facebook is expected soon.



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