StarCraft Legal Tussle Over TV Rights Brewing

StarCraft II may be popular in the US, but not the way it and its predecessor are in South Korea, where TV networks so badly want to air matches that a legal battle with Blizzard Entertainment could be heating up.

StarCraft-maker Blizzard Entertainment, the Korea Times reports, isn't happy with the continued attempts by Korean cable channels to broadcast StarCraft matches. Once a sign of just how huge StarCraft was in Korea, TV airings of matches are something Blizzard has been backing away from since the spring when it signed an exclusive deal with an online video service.

Blizzard's relations with the Korean e-Sports Players Association have also fell soured. Yet the cable channels and the players' association have continued to air StarCraft matches beyond any previous agreements with the game company. That prompted Blizzard chief operation officer Paul Sams, the Times reports, to say at last week's Blizzcon that a lawsuit against the channels and the association is in the works.

The Times outlines the dispute:

Blizzard wants to be paid more for its intellectual property, which it claims hadn't been properly respected over the years, while KeSPA [the players association]claims that the company is asking too much. Gretech-GomTV [the online video service]has currently been offering cable television firms 12-month contracts that demand broadcasting fees of 100 million won ($89,000) per league. The cable firms have been operating about three StarCraft leagues per year in both individual and team competition.

Of course, this is a sign of just how popular Blizzard's game is in Korea. Games still aren't that popular on US TV where even gaming-centric network G4 can be at risk for losing its spot on a major satellite provider DirecTV.

StarCraft broadcasting dispute headed to court [The Korea Times]


    Wonder why Activision-Blizzard has started getting aggro about this now.

      because they want to protect starcraft 2 from having the same thing happen. they are, understandibly intrested in getting in on the income that KESPA and other organisations have made happily over the years on their IP.

      blizzard know they have KESPA under their thumb. the organisatoin either bows to their will or falls apart. and if it does colapse someone else will rise to the occasion and settle on a deal with blizzard. because there is too much money to be made not to do so. KESPA needs blizzard but blizzard can get a new KESPA

    It kind of feels like this is just Blizzard looking to make some money out of this. It doesn't hurt or cost them anything to have people televise their matches, it's just that other people are making money out of it and Blizzard wants some of that.

      Yeah, that's exactly what they're doing. The market in South Korea over Starcraft is so large, why wouldn't the developers want in? They've been televising these tournaments for so long and the game's now even considered part of their national identity. If I were in charge I'd be asking to be a part of this too, the market for e-sports in S. Korea is MASSIVE and Blizzard isn't getting a cent for their own hard work, I think it's only fair that they finally get around to asking to be a part of the fad that they designed.

    Yes, it's true the Korean leagues were skirting on thin ice for years by broadcasting games, but it was happily ignored because it brought Starcraft to the forefront and sold millions of copies. But now, Blizzard is demanding MONEY?

    This has almost destroyed e-sports. KESPA will have to disband, GOM is the only channel allowed to broadcast, and its services are buggy and expensive.

    Not only this, but Jon747, the most prolific youtuber who's uploaded thousands of televised Korean games, and the lifeline of BW in the West has been banned (most likely due to these new EULA and legal fine point). Now there's almost no source of Korean games for foreign fans to watch.

    I fear the end of e-sports. If Korea can't do what they're doing now, there won't be a truly competitive scene. I suspect Kotick is to blame, regardless, Blizzard's greed is potentially destroying the goodwill of their most dedicated fans.

      Oh, I was wondering why he hasn't been uploading! I didn't realise that the Blizzard ban would apply to him, considering there are hundreds of SC2 commentators out there, myself included, who haven't been given so much as a warning yet. Of course, I'm not really that big and Blizzard probably have no idea I exist...I probably should be careful now though.

    Agreed, this move reeks of Kotick's short-sighted money grabbing methodology.

      ^^ What he said /tips hat to Reoh.

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