ESPN has been increasingly hitching itself to the esports bandwagon over the last few years, even going as far to start up their own editorial wing for the growing industry.
But ESPN is first and foremost a television broadcaster, something video games doesn't traditionally mesh with well. ESPN has had a few cracks at finding the right formula, and in a new interview their president has confirmed that it's something they'll continue to explore.
The information came from of John Skipper, the co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of ESPN, who was interviewed on stage by Re/code for the Code/Media 2016 conference. It's a mammoth piece on where ESPN is going, as well as their recent attempts to diversify.
One of those attempts is the company's increased attention on esports, from regular tournaments to regular coverage. Skipper was asked directly about how ESPN's affinity for the industry grew, particularly since Skipper had publicly been less than effusive about its potential before.
Why are you in the eSports business? It just means I’m a lifelong learner, right? And it was one of the things that you have to always work toward, is making sure that you have people who work for you who are more connected to different things. You know, I’m a 60-year-old man. I wasn’t particularly connected to eSports. I had smart people who told me, “There’s something to this. We should look at it and get involved. We should cover it.” And I did so.
Skipper went on to say that he attended the League of Legends LCS final at Madison Square Garden last year, and he said that the crowd there was "young, predominantly male consumers" — which is exactly the kind of audience ESPN wants. They don't know quite know the best way to reach them yet, but they're continuing to chase any ideas.
"We’ve had some discussions with a number of players in the eSports area about ways in which we could participate more fully," the ESPN president said. "None of that has come to fruition yet, but I think that we’ll continue to pursue opportunities for us. Look, it’s consistent with the discussion that you and I have been having, which is of course with everything going on, we have to be smart about finding new opportunities, new revenue streams, growing different things. And we are aggressively doing that."