Claire Tavernier Chief Operating Officer, Girl Effect

Stevie Rowe Head of Production, UK, Whistle Sports

Abi Hemingway Producer and Director, Jackshoot TV

Dominic Sacco Content Director, British Esports Association

The eSports gaming industry has evolved from human versus human to team-based games with a spectator element and group experiences, British Esports Association Content Director Dominic Sacco explained.

 He said: “eSports is basically electronics sports which is competitive gaming.”

Jackshoot TV Producer and Director Abi Hemingway said: “There are a lot of similarities between sports and eSports but they both have their distinctions. eSports has a very interactive online element of the audience contributing.

”The quality expectations of both traditional sports and eSports are very similar and, in fact, I would say eSports audiences demand a much higher quality. The source content, the game itself, is to such high specifications if that is not treated carefully it can denigrate online and fans will be disappointed.”

eSports’ core audience is online and has a strong fan-based community where content distribution occurs across many different platforms, capitalising on the social nature of an engaged community. 

Sacco said: “There is a place for eSports in traditional broadcasting but it might not be through a live tournament.”

He suggested it could be through documentaries or interviews.

Times are changing 
Whistle Sports Head of Production UK Stevie Rowe explained his experience working with traditional sports leagues are figuring out the way they can create bespoke content for online. 

He said: ”Traditional associations think social is easy and can repurpose some content - and put it out for social - and people will watch it but that is not the case.

”People want to be entertained and you have to treat the two audiences accordingly.

”The main traditional linear TV watching audience who watch the games but around that there are stories that need to be told. You can’t just repurpose that game footage all the time and put it on social. You need to tell stories around the game and put that on social.”

Audience engagement is key to success
Hemingway stressed the importance is audience engagement and how they interact with the content. 

She said: “Camera production lies at the heart of it, good behind the scenes [production] and successful distribution.

”Online video is exploding across sports and niche sports are finding their audience online who don’t have the mainstream coverage.”

Sacco explained the eSports ecosystem is complex, growing with influencers and positioning itself as a positive role model in the community.

“There is a real convergence happening now between sports and eSports” - Dominic Sacco

“Gold rush”
Hemingway said: “There is a pay-to-watch element [with eSports] but it is largely sponsorship led, with companies looking to grow and engage their audience online.

“Niche sports are finding a revenue stream for pay-per-view platforms and creating a really solid content offering around their sports events.

eSports is a powerful tool to reach audiences globally.

Rowe said: “Successful [eSports organisations] are really open to forward-thinking and are using the stars to help market the sport itself. This brings more money into the sport. 

Sacco added: “There is a real convergence happening now between sports and eSports.”

Hemingway explained gaming is the most watched content on YouTube. She said: “It is important to multiple distribution and to push out to a wider audience to keep that momentum going.”

Read more eSports producers demand flexible tools as interest surges

Watch IBC365 webinar Transforming live sports production with Artificial Intelligence 

Interested in eSports? The NextGen: Interactive + Immersive Experiences conference track at IBC2018 will provide insight into developments within the worlds of eSports, live production, AR and social.