Esports production and entertainment companies ESL and DreamHack have signed a landmark three-year deal with broadcasting site Twitch, which will see the streaming giant retain exclusive rights over the world’s biggest esports events through 2022.
The deal, which focuses on the streaming rights of English broadcasts for their events, will cover the bulk of the ESL and DreamHack calendar in 2021 and 2022 and cover the main three titles of ESL’s Pro Tour in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft II and Warcraft III.
Also included will be the organisers’ premier offline events like the ESL Pro League, Intel Extreme Masters, DreamHack Masters & Open and the major regional ESL National Championships. Twitch will act as ESL and DreamHack’s global digital media partner beginning this year, before the exclusivity to streaming rights starts in 2021.
In a media release Benjamin Vallat, Senior Vice President of Alliances and Corporate Development at Twitch, spoke of the groundbreaking deal and its importance to the global esports scene. “ESL and Twitch have been key players in the history of esports as we know it. The continuation of our partnership will strengthen not only the content offerings for fans, but also the greater esports community that ESL, Dreamhack, and Twitch have cultivated over the years.”
The announcement comes after ESL reported a massive 215% rise in average viewership length for ESL Pro League Season 11 - the most successful season for viewership ever. A big proponent for the rise in viewership can be attributed to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which forced the cancellation of the offline finals event in Denver, with ESL instead splitting the league by region and moving to an online platform.
ESL’s previous exclusive sale of broadcasting rights came in 2018 with social media giant Facebook, which then only included broadcasts of ESL One and ESL Pro League events in Dota 2 and CS:GO respectively. However, despite significant updates to the live Facebook Gaming service following heavy community backlash, a February 2019 update to the deal stepped back from total broadcast exclusivity on the Facebook Gaming platform.
One such event that the new deal would include is August’s IEM Melbourne 2020, the pinnacle live esports event in Australia that this year moves to the Victorian capital after three years in Sydney. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic set to affect global travel and social distancing still in place, it is unclear yet as to whether the event will go ahead at all. Stay tuned to Here’s The Thing for news and updates with all things esports.