The move has been in the planning stages for months, but was revealed earlier today when the company posted an esports general editor job listing on its website.
ESPN has recently tested the waters in the booming industry. Last year, it broadcasted the League of Legends World Championship live from South Korea on its online streaming platform, ESPN3. In April, it broadcasted a college Heroes of the Storm tournament, Heroes of the Dorm, on ESPN2.
That was followed by a special esports edition of its monthly magazine, which was headlined by a feature on the best League of Legends player in the world, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. The article, titled the “The Unkillable Demon King,” was a huge success in the League of Legends community, staying near the top of the game’s subreddit for more than a day.
Most recently, ESPN did broadcasting work with Riot Games at the North American League Championship Series Finals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
It’s hardly a surprise the self-described Worldwide Leader in Sports is finally making a move into esports. The industry has been making waves and raising eyebrows with its impressive viewership numbers and prize pools. More than 28 million watched last year’s League of Legends World Championships. Only a month ago, Dota 2’s premiere event, The International, featured an $18 million prize pool. And last month, a Counter-Strike tournament peaked at 1.3 million concurrent viewers.
Images via Riot Games, Valve, Hearthstone, and Activision | Remix by Jacob Wolf