Gfinity has signed a landmark broadcast deal with national broadcaster the BBC that will see its flagship Elite Series broadcast on the Corporation’s flagship online channel.
BBC Three will air six consecutive weeks of live coverage of the Gfinity Elite Series every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, starting today at 9pm with Street Fighter V. Additionally, BBC Three will have exclusive short-form video content, lifestyle segments that focus on the players and their storylines.
While the BBC has broadcasted esports before—the 2015 League of Legends World Championship quarter-finals from Wembley, for instance. But this deal is the first that spans throughout a whole tournament series, instead of just segments.
“Our partnership with BBC Three will bring Elite Series live and lifestyle content to millions of new viewers and showcase the incredible dedication and passion of professional gamers,” said Neville Upton, CEO at Gfinity. “The BBC is one of the world’s most renowned and respected broadcasters and their commitment to the Gfinity Elite Series is a defining moment for esports and we are very proud to be a part of it.”
Gfinity’s Elite Series circuit consists of Rocket League, Street Fighter V, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive games and takes place in London’s Gfinity Arena, a dedicated esports studio. The studio, which is based in a cinema complex in West London, recently underwent a major re-fit.
“Esports has become hugely popular in the last few years with young audiences,” said Damian Kavanagh, a BBC representative. “BBC Three can bring this to a mainstream audience and create new habits with younger audiences as we stream three of the most popular games on BBC Three across the weekend.”
TV deals are becoming increasingly relevant for the esports industry. Spearheading projects like Turner’s ELEAGUE have demonstrated that esports can be worked up for television broadcast. Riot Games $350 million deal with BAMtech showcases how much money can be involved, as well. In an industry that’s still financially driven by sponsorships, broadcasting deals could well become the major income stream over the next few years.
Gfinity is on a major spree of expansion right now. The company signed a partnership with TV network Eleven Sports just last week, and completed the purchase of esports service network CEVO just a few days ago.