This week the ‘eSports IQ by Alex Fletcher‘ features the following content: What does eSports on TV really need?

What does eSports on TV really need?

To contextualize the rise of competitive gaming as a television media property, take a close look at the past and future. Doing so reveals the tendency to cast eSports against the shadow of traditional sports on TV; a damaging equivalence that misses key differences between digital and physical competition. To better understand why, let’s take a look at the equation for traditional sport on TV: Locality + Social Context + Competition.


The physical place or region where the sporting event takes place. Includes the notion of home court/field, the visiting team, historical backdrop for the location, etc. Aside from individual sports like golf or tennis, team sports are rooted in specific physical locations.

Social Context

The place of sport within a larger cultural, typically nationally defined, context. This varies from region to region. For example, the sport of futbol features a deep cultural traditional in nearly every part of the world, except the United States where football is the most popular sport.


The definition of what’s at stake for a match, tournament, game, season, etc. Entails what the winner has to gain, outside of bragging rights, over the loser. Directly related to the social context for the specific sport.

The broadcast of sports on TV is structured around the drama, storylines and imagery built atop the above core components. This equation creates a symbiotic relationship between sport and broadcast medium (television). On the other hand, electronic sports have yet to develop the most of the above elements, a reality which complicates its trajectory on television. As Turner Sports fills out a leadership group of eSports veterans to guide the $1.2 million ELEAGUE, it’s important to cast how competitive video games will fare on TV, given that fact.

Currently, eSports falls short in two (locality and social context) of the three areas that support a TV dominated sports ecosystem. The strengths that digital distribution, e.g. livestreaming, brings to competitive video games are not only mutually exclusive, but also diametrically opposed, to success on TV. Meaning changes to the programming format, which augments the viewing experience for one group of viewers will, most likely, degrade that for the other.

Electronic sport broadcasts have evolved to meet the needs of online audiences. Meaning it will be a challenge to reconcile the tastes of eSports fans and enthusiasts, who don’t already value the advantages of TV productions, with a new programming format. For example, a sport-like TV viewing experience is focused on bringing as much of the experience of actually being at the physical venue to remote audiences, as possible. This can be done because everyone is watching from a TV screen, so key assumptions can be made. On the other hand, online audiences would value the ability to seamlessly view programming from smartphones, tablets, and PC’s, over camera spans that show the faces of fans in the crowd at an event.

Ultimately, the question of what role will TV play in the eSports phenomenon remains unanswered. Yes, TV programming is a big step towards building a stronger social context for competitive video games. However, as the past has shown, does the content really and truly fit the medium?

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About ‘eSports IQ’

The ‘eSports IQ’ is compiled by Alex Fletcher, the founder and president of Entiva Group, LLC, and features insights on the latest emerging trends in eSports. By curating invaluable content from a wide range of information sources you get the leading edge in the business of eSports. The complicated past (and future) of esports on TV

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Image source:, Photographer: Patrick Strack