EBU Director of Sport, Stefan Kürten spoke at this week's THE SPOT conference, 15-16 May Lausanne (SUI), of the potential partnerships between public service media and esports, bringing the genre to wider audiences. As part of a panel discussing 'What's Next in esports', he highlighted the opportunities for both, with esports learning from the commercial model of sports rights and broadcasters benefitting from engaging the younger audiences of the future.
The EBU has played an important role in following the potential of esports for a number of years, holding its first Master Class for member broadcasters back in 2016. The EBU currently works with the esports industry to offer sports-simulation games to members, but also with the EBU News Exchange offering the possibility to access esports content for free use by all EBU Members, along with industry highlights, reports and news coverage. Some 15 member broadcasters in Europe are already very active in this sphere.
Stefan Kürten explains "There is potential for traditional broadcast media and esports to work together, and we need to start to use the same language to discuss. We are very good at storytelling and reaching a very large audience, and we are good at promoting things but not so strong in capturing the interest of the youth. The two worlds can learn from each other.
"We continue to explore the potential of EBU to offer 360 services around esports, with news, live multi-platform programmes, distribution and editorial consulting services" he continues. "In order to make the competition grow, an affinity needs to be created between audiences and players, the concept of national teams explored further and the build up to events explained more. This will enable true audience connection and emotion. Once this momentum is realized the financial model of selling sports rights could fly".
Kürten also spoke of the EBU's innovative esports broadcaster workshop for members coming up on 11-12 June. The two-day workshop will see broadcasters from across Europe gather with some of the biggest names in worldwide esports (including Twitch, Riot Games, IMG, WAT Social Club and the famous Finnish esports star Joona "natu" Leppänen) to discuss trends, how public broadcasters are exploring the field and to share knowledge and best practice on producing engaging esports programming. Hosted in Helsinki by the EBU's Finnish Member Oy Yleisradio Ab (YLE), participants will also delve into esports rights acquisition and negotiation and how broadcasters can create a higher impact with their esports offer.
THE SPOT 2018 conference brought together industry leaders and delegates from the fields of academia, research, business, sport, broadcasting and sporting governing bodies and federations. Moderated by Lars Stegelman from Neilsen Sports, the 'What's next in esports' panel also featured Dr Brett Abarbanel from the University of Nevada Las Vegas International Gaming Institute, Jan Pommer from egaming giant ESL and Federico Winer from leading technology company SAP.