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Twitter will stream its first eSports competition, starting today

ICE Graveyard 29/07/2016 Sarah Perez

It’s no Twitch, but Twitter this weekend will live stream its first eSports competition on its service, thanks to a partnership with Eleague. Twitter will provide live coverage of the organization’s semifinals and championship held today and tomorrow in Atlanta, where teams will be playing Valve’s “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Game.”

The first semifinal takes place today at 5 PM ET, and will be followed by the second semifinal at 10 PM. The season one championship is then held on Saturday at 4 PM ET with the top two teams going head-to-head in a best out of three series, says Eleague.

However, this will not be an exclusive live streaming deal for Twitter. Eleague, which is part-owned by Turner along with WWE | IMG, will also air the matches live on TBS as well as offer a live stream of all three matches on Amazon-owned Twitch.

That said, the eSports organization is poised to take advantage of Twitter’s audience, using the network as a way to interact with fans and promote competitive gaming in general. The Eleague Twitter account (@EL) will be tweeting out highlights, GIFs, stats and score updates throughout the match, while Twitter-owned Periscope will feature on-air talent and behind-the-scenes footage of players, the company notes.

For Twitter, the deal is a way to tap into a growing audience of gamers, which the company claims are some of the more active users on its network. Of course, Twitter hasn’t always had an easy time managing its gamer user base – a smaller subset of gamers, the #GamerGate crowd, have been responsible for some of the most vicious trolling the site and its users have ever faced.

At least by focusing on eSports, Twitter has a chance to bring in a more diverse group of gaming fans, beyond those who like to anonymous target and harass women in the gaming industry.

“Esports fans go to Twitter to see and talk about what is happening now in competitive gaming,” said Anthony Noto, Twitter’s Chief Financial Officer, in a statement about the new deal. “Gamers are one of the largest and most engaged audiences on Twitter, and we are thrilled to partner with Turner and WME I IMG to bring them the live content from Eleague and Twitter commentary they are already looking for, all on one screen.”

Also of note: during the live stream on all three platforms, including Twitter, Eleague says it will be taking some limited commercial breaks. These will feature ads from Domino’s, Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Credit Karma. 

Eleague’s partnership is now only of many Twitter has made over the past several months as it moves into live streaming, and one of several in the wider “sports” category. The company also live streamed Wimbledon, and has made a deal with the NFL to stream Thursday Night Football this fall. It recently added a partnership with Pac-12 Networks for university sports, too, and will exclusively live stream two original NBA programs weekly next season.

Outside of sports, Twitter also partnered with CBSN to live stream convention coverage and Bloomberg for financial news.

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