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ESL and DreamHack will consolidate their Counter-Strike events into one global circuit, the two company’s parent Modern Times Group partners with Huya, and the average minute audience for the Overwatch League 2019 season is released.
Missed any of the biggest esports business news last week? The TEO Monday Morning Briefing recaps the top headlines from the last seven days!
DreamHack and ESL, both part of Modern Times Group MTG AB, announced that over 20 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) tournaments and leagues will be consolidated under one circuit called the ESL Pro Tour.
Previously, only the top events for each company were connected, through the Intel Grand Slam competition. The ESL Pro Tour will feature an aggregate prize pool of over $5M and create a “more complete path” for aspiring players.
ESL Pro Tour competitors will play in two different categories. The Challenger category tournaments include DreamHack Open, the Mountain Dew League, and ESL’s National Championships. The Masters category will offer at least $250K in prize money per event, and focus on arena tournaments. This category includes ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters, and DreamHack Masters, as well as the 2020 format of the ESL CS:GO Pro League.
Additional details about the new system will be revealed at a press briefing on Sept. 28 at ESL One New York. A report from Dexerto stated claimed that the ESL Pro League within the Pro Tour would have exclusivity rules that would prevent teams from competing in other leagues based on certain criteria. Speaking to The Esports Observer, ESL VP of pro gaming Michal Blicharz said “What was quoted is definitely 100% not a rulebook for the ESL Pro Tour, and not even a rulebook for the Pro League.”
In a bid to make its ratings data directly comparable to traditional sports, the Overwatch League (OWL) released Nielsen viewership figures in average-minute-audience (AMA) form for the first time. The Activision Blizzard Esports-owned OWL started working with Nielsen in April of last year so it could start to get AMA data, in order to share that with prospects, sponsors, and agencies, and this marks the first time Nielsen has released such year-over-year figures for an esports property.
The data, which compares digital streams last year versus digital streams plus linear broadcasts this year, shows that the OWL averaged 313K viewers globally and 95K in the U.S. during the recently concluded regular season, up 18% and 34% annually.
After reports of real estate investor and President of the Zieben Group, Lee Zieben, buying the Overwatch League franchise Houston Outlaws surfaced at the end of July, the Houston Business Journal (HBJ) recently reported that Zieben may also be in the process of acquiring Los Angeles-based esports organization eUnited parent company eUnited eSports Inc.
According to HBJ, Zieben is in the process of raising $50M to fund an esports-focused holding company. The holding company has been set up as a qualified opportunity zone* business to attract investors with potential tax benefits. Boutique investment bank and corporate advisory firm Accelerate Sports is working with Zieben on this project.
Sponsorship and Partnerships Round-Up
MTG will expand into the Chinese esports market through a binding term sheet with livestreaming platform Huya. The strategic partnership will include a new joint venture company with MTG portfolio company ESL, of which Huya will be able to acquire a minority interest in. Through the joint venture, ESL and Huya are looking to host and build local Chinese esports competitions. Huya will acquire $30M worth of primary and secondary shares in ESL, at a pre-money enterprise value of $425M.
G2 Esports has expanded its relationship with Red Bull to go beyond sim racing, debuting a new partnership covering all its esports teams and content creators. The multi-year agreement covers player performance, content creation, and event activations. The two companies introduced their partnership at multiple esports events last weekend, including the Starladder Berlin Major, the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) finals in Athens, the Rainbow Six Invitational 2019 at DreamHack Montreal.
Twitch has been named the exclusive streaming partner of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). For the next three years beginning Oct. 5, Twitch will stream all NWHL regular season, the Isobel Cup Playoff, and special event games. As part of the agreement, Twitch will collaborate with NWHL to create “innovative content” designed to increase “the deep connection” between NWHL players and their fans, according to a statement.
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