×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

CW to Air Machinima ‘Mortal Kombat X’ eSports Special on TV

The CW has picked up the third season of Machinima’s eSports documentary series “Chasing the Cup” about players facing off in a “Mortal Kombat X” tournament — marking the first TV deal for the YouTube-focused digital studio.

CW will distribute the first five episodes of “Mortal Kombat X: Machinima’s Chasing the Cup” online at CW Seed. The finale, covering the championship of the ESL Mortal Kombat X Pro League Finals with contestants battling for $100,000 in prize money, will air on the CW Network as a one-hour primetime special on Monday, Feb. 15, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

The deal unites together several Warner Bros. properties and investments. The studio owns half of CW (together with CBS), and holds an equity investment in Machinima. In addition, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is the publisher of the “Mortal Kombat” game franchise, developed by NetherRealm Studios.

CW has been growing its male audience, with DC Comics-based shows including “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow,” and discovered a heavy crossover between those fans and videogamers.

“We’re testing to see if this could be ‘sports for CW,'” said Rick Haskins, exec VP of marketing and digital programs for the CW.

For Machinima, which has granted CW exclusive U.S. rights to the series and special, the deal promises to be more lucrative than a digital-only deal. “The economics of producing TV are greater than what you’d do for YouTube,” said Daniel Tibbets, Machinima’s chief content officer. The company also expects to cut international licensing deals for the show.

Warner Bros.’ involvement was not an overriding factor in bringing “Mortal Kombat X: Machinima’s Chasing the Cup” to CW, according to Tibbets. “Unless the positioning was right, this wouldn’t have happened,” he said.

Machinima, after starting life as a YouTube multichannel network, has expanded distribution partners to include Vimeo, Sony PlayStation Vue, Vessel and Verizon’s Go90. “We, as a studio company, are really changing it from a YouTube-centric company to a studio creating content for multiple platforms,” Tibbets said.

The first two seasons of “Chasing the Cup,” in 2013 and 2014, followed players of “League of Legends” and was distributed on Twitch and YouTube.

As for why CW is airing only the one-hour special on TV – and not the whole series –Haskins said the decision was partly from the network’s interest in growing the audience for the free, ad-supported CW Seed service and because eSports is a relatively untested commodity on broadcast television. “The actual (‘Mortal Kombat X’ finals) event is eight hours long,” Haskins said. “God love ’em, but I didn’t want to do eight hours of that on TV.”

“Mortal Kombat X: Machinima’s Chasing the Cup” follows five of the world’s top-ranked players of the fighting game: Carl White (aka Perfect Legend), from Toledo, Ohio; brothers Timothy Commandeur (HoneyBee) and Matthew Commandeur (BioHazard) from Toronto, Canada; Brant McCaskill (Pig of the Hut) from Atlanta, Ga.; and returning champion Dominique Maclean (SonicFox), from Townsend, Del.

The second season of the ESL Mortal Kombat X Pro League began Nov. 1, 2015, and the finals took place at the ESL Burbank Studios on Sunday, Jan. 24.

The first three episodes of “Mortal Kombat X: Machinima’s Chasing the Cup” are being released Monday on CW Seed, with the others to post weekly. The finale also will be on CW Seed following TV broadcast.

More Digital

  • Chris Thorne - Beats

    Apple's Beats by Dre Taps Chris Thorne as Chief Marketing Officer

    Beats by Dr. Dre, Apple’s audio-products subsidiary, announced Chris Thorne — whose past gigs have included stints at EA and Jessica Alba’s The Honest Co. — as its new CMO. Thorne takes on the chief marketing officer role after the departure earlier this year of Jason White, formerly Beats’ EVP and global head of marketing, [...]

  • 76th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS --

    Viacom Partners With Tyler Perry for BET Plus Streaming Service

    Viacom’s BET Networks has teamed with Tyler Perry to create a subscription streaming service that combines the prolific auteur’s library of movies and TV shows with BET’s programming vault. The service dubbed BET Plus will bow in the fall with a handful of original series and productions and a deep library offering that will be [...]

  • Love Nature Teams with Arte, BBC,

    Love Nature Teams with Arte, BBC, Smithsonian on Natural History Series ‘Stormborn’

    Love Nature has greenlit “Stormborn,” a wildlife series about animals living in the wildlands of countries on the edge of the North Atlantic. The three-parter will bow on Love Nature’s 4K linear channel and streaming service and then play on Arte in France and Germany, BBC Scotland and Smithsonian Channel. Love Nature is the natural [...]

  • john-farrar-joins-barcroft

    Barcroft Studios Hires John Farrar as Creative Director, Ups Two Execs (EXCLUSIVE)

    John Farrar, whose credits include “The Imposter,” has joined U.K. producer and digital content specialist Barcroft Studios. The company has also upped two senior staffers, with Alex Morris elevated to chief creative officer and Caspar Norman to chief operating officer. The new recruit joins Barcroft from Nerd TV, the U.K. shingle he co-founded with Jago [...]

  • Mubi Streaming Service Launches in Southeast

    Mubi Streaming Service Launches in Southeast Asia (EXCLUSIVE)

    Film specialist streaming platform Mubi is to launch in Southeast Asia. The service kicks off with operation in Malaysia, and has plans to quickly launch in another half-dozen territories in the fast-developing region. Mubi will retain its highly curated approach of offering one new film title per day and retaining each for just 30 days. [...]

  • A trading post sports the Spotify

    Spotify Determines That It Overpaid Publishers in 2018, Requests Refund

    When calculating the new, higher rates determined by the U.S Copyright Royalty Board — which Spotify, Amazon, Google and SiriusXM/Pandora have appealed — Spotify has determined that it overpaid publishers in 2018 and would like a refund. “According to the new CRB regulations, we overpaid most publishers in 2018,” a Spotify spokeperson said. “While the [...]

  • harry potter wizards unite

    'Harry Potter: Wizards Unite' Off to Slower Start Than 'Pokemon Go'

    Niantic’s new location-based augmented reality game “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is off to a solid start — but it doesn’t seem to have quite the same momentum as “Pokemon Go” did when it launched 3 years ago. That’s according to initial estimates from app analytics specialist Sensor Tower. “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” first became available [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content