This from the head of the network that streamed DOTA 2's 10 million dollar The International championship. OK then.
ESPN President John Skipper didn't mince words when asked about his thoughts on Amazon's $US970 million purchase of Twitch: "whatevs, breh." OK, he didn't actually say it that way, but he may as well have. Here, via re/code, is how he actually replied:
"[eSports] is not a sport — it's a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition. Mostly, I'm interested in doing real sports."
That's quite a thing to say when the US government has declared eSports just as "real" as Big Field Pigskin Toss and Long Distance Precision Hoop Shot (Sometimes Involving Looney Tunes). eSports players also adhere to gruelling training regimens and tend to be dependent on youthful reflexes/physicality/dexterity during the exceedingly brief window of time that is their career.
Sorry Skipper, this ain't Chess. You're comparing apples and pineapples — wildly different things with only superficial similarities between them.
It will be interesting to see if his viewpoint has any effect on ESPN's future broadcasting of eSports. They'd be foolish to dial back on coverage of these tiny, massively popular gladiatorial arenas, but Skipper did say he wants to focus on "real" sports. That doesn't exactly bode well — even if the International and other eSports events have performed admirably for ESPN in the past.
I've mailed ESPN to ask about their future plans. I'll update this post when I hear back.