Gfinity announce BBC and BT Sport deals
Gfinity have recently announced two huge deals in the UK to broadcast the Elite Series. In an undisclosed deal, BBC were first to announce on Friday stating that it was the “first deal of it’s kind” and that it would be featured on their online only channel, BBC Three. Meanwhile BT Sport today announced they were joining the hype train and getting involved with UK esports.
In a move that maybe worth a lot of money somewhere, Gfinity announced that they were bringing Elite Series to normal TV with teaming up with the BBC. Whilst the BBC had dabbled their fingers in the esports scene, by hosting Worlds League Of Legends online streams which was the Quarter Finals at Wembley Stadium, they haven’t really fully committed to the esports landscape until now. It is an intriguing move, considering both ESL Premiership and UK Masters have gone down the seemingly traditional route of basing themselves on Twitch only, but Gfinity have managed to broaden their horizons by boasting this move into the mainstream. It should be fully noted that whilst it’s a bold move, BBC Three is now online only, and thus not on traditional TV. However it does send out a big message that some of the big broadcasters in the UK want to get involved.
Taken from the BBC Press Release:
Big announcement. We’re going to bring you four hours of live esports coverage every weekend for the next six weeks.
In the first deal of its kind for the BBC (we like to be first), we’ve signed up the Gfinity Elite League Series One.
Want to know how you can watch it? Well simply tune in on Fridays from 8.45pm, Saturdays from 9pm and Sundays from 5pm on BBC Three’s website or BBC iPlayer. You can also talk about it on social using #bbcesports.
It’s based around a new league featuring Street Fighter, Counter Strike and Rocket League.
It shows some serious development within the UK market for the first time in a rather long time (ie the CGS era of Counter-Strike:Source and other titles at the time). Whether there is any money in these deals is another thing to be seen, but it shows some potential for UK esports to get bigger over time with continued investment like this.
Meanwhile BT Sport also announced their capture of the deal with Gfinity. In a Press Release this morning, BT Sport announced they were moving back into esports once again after they recently trialed it with a move into FIFA with the EA Ultimate Team Championship Series. Our friends over at Esports News UK, announced shortly after all that buzz, that BT Sport had “extremely positive feedback” around their coverage, and planned to do more. This has led to Gfinity Elite Series being broadcast on their channels.
Gfinity plc, a leading international esports company, announces a broadcast partnership with BT Sport, a 24/7 sports centric TV channel, to show its Elite Series which has been running since 7 July 2017 at the Gfinity Esports Arena in London. Broadcasting will commence on Tuesday 1 August 2017.
The new deal will bring esports, already viewed by millions online, to new audiences and allow BT Sport subscribers to view the tournament which will feature some of the top professional players in competitive gaming from both the UK and internationally.
As previously announced, the Elite Series tournament will see eight professional esports teams compete over nine weekends of head-to-head gameplay in a bid to win the Elite Series title and a share of the £225,000 prize money and showcase their skills on the world stage, marking an important milestone in the significance and growth of the UK esports scene.
To qualify for the Elite Series at the Gfinity Esports Arena, gamers of all levels have been playing online at GfinityEsports.com in the Challenger Series for ranking points. The leading competitors then qualified for the Gfinity Elite Draft, which gave them the chance to be selected for a coveted roster spot with a Gfinity Elite Series professional team.
The Gfinity Elite Series will run for nine weeks. This is the first time the UK esports community has had the opportunity to participate in a structured live league competition featuring top UK and foreign players based in London, at both grass roots and pro-level. The league promises to offer exciting new opportunities to watch or play in a fiercely competitive environment.
Neville Upton, Chief Executive of Gfinity, said:
“We are very pleased to launch this partnership and deliver the Elite Series to our fans on TV, through BT Sport. BT Sport has shown a commitment to be at the forefront of sports broadcasting and this is an amazing opportunity to bring esports to a new audience in the UK, showcasing the incredible engagement and passion of the gamers and fans. We look forward to working with BT Sport to grow esports in the UK through engaging and innovative new content.”
Andy Haworth, BT’s managing director of content and strategy, said
“This fantastic tie-up with Gfinity marks our latest move to support and engage with the passionate and extensive gaming community here in the UK. The popularity of competitive gaming is growing rapidly and we are excited to announce that the inaugural season of the Elite Series will be broadcast on BT Sport.”
Once again, another massive move for both Gfinity and UK esports in general, as it’s now starting to pick up some form of momentum.
We will be covering Gfinity Elite Series in greater detail over the coming weeks, but we would like to hear what do you feel around these specific deals and what it means for Counter-Strike, and UK esports in general? Is it a good thing that we now get mainstream coverage, or do you feel it will corrupt the true passion and identity of esports that we have grown to love?