Turner Broadcasting and WME|IMG have named their upcoming new professional eSports league, the companies announced Thursday.
ELeague, which begins in 2016, will be the first league to present eSports on a fully distributed national television platform. Along with 30 hours of weekly competition streamed live digitally, ELeague will also be presented on TBS.
TBS plans to feature 10 consecutive weeks of eSports programming twice a year, including playoffs and championship rounds. The plan is for the live competitions, which will be shot in front of a studio audience, to air Friday nights on TBS.
“There’s no doubt in our mind that this is a sport – these are athletes,” Lenny Daniels, president of Turner Sports, said. “What hasn’t happened is that it hasn’t been exposed to a mainstream audience.”
This will not be the first time that eSports have been featured on national television. Back in April, ESPN2 televised a collegiate “Heroes of the Storm” tournament called “Heroes of the Dorm.” The reactions from some viewers, and even ESPN’s own employees and talent, knocked the event as being below what they believed the caliber of the worldwide leader in sports.
Daniels wasn’t deterred back in September when the league was announced.
“This is a way to bring eSports to light and the 90 million homes TBS is in,” he said.
ELeague will premiere in 2016 with tournaments featuring video game “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.”