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

  • Velvet Buzzsaw trailer

    Netflix Original Movies: What to Look Forward To in 2019

    Following the biggest fourth-quarter worldwide subscriber gain ever and some controversy around increased prices in the U.S., Netflix looks to keep its momentum going into 2019. From Jan. 18 through March, the streaming site will release 10 original films, including action-packed thrillers, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi, quirky comedies, inspirational dramas, an artistic horror movie and a viral [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Release of Docs to Reveal How Facebook Made Money Off Children

    Documents related to a 2012 lawsuit against Facebook in which children, sometimes unwittingly, spent their parents’ money on games via the social site will be unsealed, according to a Monday ruling from the United States District Court. The court gave Facebook ten days to file unredacted documents in accordance with the ruling. The 2012 lawsuit [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Facebook Sets Up New Product Group for AR Glasses (Report)

    Facebook has restructured its augmented and virtual reality research division and set up a new group tasked with building augmented reality (AR) glasses, according to a new Business Insider report. Facebook acknowledged the move in a statement given to the publication, saying that the move affected “a few hundred people.” The group has already built [...]

  • nba-the-bounce-logo

    NBA, Turner to Debut Three-Hour Primetime Live Studio Show on Yahoo Sports

    Coming next week: a new NBA primetime show — delivered over the internet — covering all the live action and storylines of the evening. The NBA is teaming with Turner Sports and Yahoo to produce a live nightly show designed for mobile viewers in a three-hour block, slated to run five nights per week on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content