CBS Sports gets vidgame specials

First WSVG show will bow July 29

The World Series of Video Games has expanded its deal with CBS Sports, landing four hourlong specials on the Eye web that will offer coverage of tournaments and follow the players that compete in them throughout the year.

The tourney organizer is trying to turn videogames into a spectator sport and give them the same TV-friendly treatment poker has received in recent years, complete with color commentary and profiles.

Deal with CBS Sports is a time buy, with specials filmed at events in Louisville, Ky.; Dallas and Los Angeles set to air in July, August and November. The finale, which takes place in Sweden, airs in December. The first show will bow July 29.

WSVG’s events, which feature as many as 1,500 competitors, attract an audience of between 10,000 and 100,000 people over four days, depending on where they’re held, organizers said.

All four hours of programming will air during the midday CBS Sports Spectacular block, which includes coverage of golfing, mountain biking, cycling, sailing and other sporting events.

The WSVG specials will be produced and directed by Matthew Mills, of TV by Mills, who oversaw MTV Networks’ “Gamer’s Week 2.0” last year. Sportscaster Greg Amsinger hosts.

In addition to appealing to gamers and trying to get nongamers to tune in, episodes will serve as a marketing tool for publishers and the games being played in the tournaments — Activision’s “Guitar Hero II,” Blizzard Entertainment’s “World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade” and “Fight Night Round 3,” from EA Sports.

Last year, CBS Sports ran the one-off “They Got Game: The Stars of the World Series of Video Games Presented by Intel” as part of a deal to air 20 hours of programming about the tournaments across various Viacom channels, including MTV and College Sports Television.

“This year, we wanted to focus our coverage on CBS,” said Matthew Ringel, president and commissioner of the World Series of Video Games. “We felt it had the widest reach and that the type of programming one finds on CBS Sports is aligned with how we’re approaching videogames. We want to establish this as very viable televised sports entertainment.”

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