CBS Interactive Acquires Ad Rights To Top eSports Players

by , Apr 18, 2012, 8:30 AM
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In a bid to take so-called eSports mainstream, CBS Interactive (CBSi) Tuesday revealed exclusive partnerships with TwitchTV and Major League Gaming (MLG) to handle ad sales for both companies.

TwitchTV is an online platform broadcasting live coverage of “eSports,” including competitive video game competitions. MLG is the world’s largest competitive video game league.

As part of the agreements, TwitchTV’s coverage of live gaming competitions and events will be featured on GameSpot.com, CBSi’s flagship gaming site. CBSi will also be the exclusive online broadcaster of MLG’s “Pro Circuit” competitions.

The deals make CBSi the exclusive seller of all advertising, promotions and sponsorships for both TwitchTV and MLG.

"The eSports scene is one of the hottest trends in video, and is rapidly attracting the core 18-34 male demographic in greater numbers than any other medium or category," stated CBS Interactive President Jim Lanzone.

Rex Harris, media supervisor at Publicis’ SMGx unit, pointed out that the CBSi partnerships echo the explosive growth of Machinima, the YouTube premium channel devoted to gamer-inspired content -- which “is consistently one of YouTube’s highest viewed and, consequently, monetized premium channels.”

He said it’s a “smart move (for CBSi) to stick a flag in the ground of the ever-growing mountain of niche video content found on the Web.”

From a brand perspective, Harris said the only potential downside to these deals is the unpredictability of live streaming, which might cause some brands to shy away. TwitchTV estimates it attracts more than 16 million uniques per month, who tune into its events and competitions for an average of 23 minutes.

MLG claims to have served over 15 million hours of live video to its fans during the 2011 Pro Circuit season. As the video gaming league’s exclusive broadcast rights holder, CBSi is hoping that as eSports grow in popularity, so too will MLG.

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