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Twitter to Live-Stream 1,500 Hours of eSports in 2017 Under ESL, DreamHack Pacts

Variety logo Variety 3/2/2017 Todd Spangler
© Provided by Variety

Twitter is going into eSports with guns blazing: The social network says it will live-stream 1,500 hours of competitive-gaming events this year under deals with ESL and DreamHack.

The deal covers more than 15 events in the ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) and DreamHack eSports circuits. The video streams will be available for free worldwide at esl.twitter.com, iem.twitter.com, and dreamhack.twitter.com as well as on Twitter’s app for Apple TV, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV and Android TV.

Twitter’s first eSports event will be the ESL-produced Intel Extreme Masters Katowice in Poland, kicking off on Saturday, March 4, with pro gamers squaring off in Blizzard Entertainment’s “StarCraft II.” All DreamHack events will also be live streamed, starting with DreamHack Austin, which runs April 28-30 with a lineup that includes “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” “Hearthstone,” “StarCraft II” and “Street Fighter V.”

In addition to the eSports events — which Twitter does not have exclusive rights to — ESL also will produce live original content for Twitter, including a weekly 30-minute recap show with highlights and behind-the-scenes footage. The Twitter eSports content will include advertising packages with TV-style ad breaks as well as highlights and recap clips that advertisers can sponsor and promote on Twitter; it will split ad revenue with ESL and DreamHack.

The pacts reflect Twitter’s appetite to pack as much live video onto its service as it can get its hands on, with the goal of streaming popular content every day. They also demonstrate the ongoing popularity of eSports among fans — and media companies that want to cater to them. ESL sees a big opportunity to expand the appeal of eSports, and recently hired former Fox TV executive David Hill as a consulting producer for its major events coverage.

ESL and DreamHack are both owned by Sweden-based digital entertainment group MTG. “By partnering with the leading eSports companies like ESL and DreamHack, we look forward to bringing the best of eSports live video and conversation together on Twitter,” Anthony Noto, Twitter’s COO and CFO, said in a statement.

Facebook, for its part, has planted a foot in the eSports world. The social-media giant is the exclusive broadcast partner for Blizzard Entertainment’s college eSports tournament “Heroes of the Dorm” this year, with “Heroes of the Storm” college teams fighting for $500,000 in scholarships and prizes. The event previously aired on ESPN2 the past two years.

Pictured above: The Intel Extreme Masters Katowice tournament at Spodek Arena in Katowice, Poland.

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