Machinima’s “Inside eSports,” slated to debut this summer, will be a daily series covering news, highlights and analysis from all the biggest eSports tournaments seven days a week. The show will provide the lowdown on teams, players, lifestyle and fandom in eSports genres including first-person shooters, multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), real-time strategy like “Starcraft 2,” fighting games and FIFA soccer.
The show will have a soft launch in May and a hard launch in June, said Machinima CEO Chad Gutstein.
“We’ve been doing work on the eSports for some time… it’s been a core part of Machinima’s lineup for most of our history, and now it’s having its breakthrough moment,” Gutstein said. Internet audiences for the championships of the biggest eSports tournaments rival viewership of major traditional sports like the NBA and Major League Baseball, he added.
Verizon Go90 will be the exclusive distributor for “Inside eSports” in the U.S., and Machinima is looking to land international distribution partners for the show. The company will produce up to 3 hours of content per week for “Inside eSports,” with a weekly one-hour cut edited for TV. Gutstein is attending MipTV in Cannes this week to pitch buyers on the show.
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“We truly build things differently for multiplatform distribution,” Gutstein said.
Machinima has hired producers and on-air talent for “Inside eSports,” but Gutstein declined to identify them. “We are still staffing up,” he said, adding that the show will eventually have a team of 30 people. The crew will be based in Machinima’s 16,000-square-foot studio in Burbank, Calif., which is right across the street from eSports league ESL’s tournament studio.
Verizon has picked up other Machinima programming as well, including the “Street Fighter: Resurrection” live-action miniseries.
The booming eSports segment has attracted a range of new media players looking to tap into the action, including ESPN and Yahoo. “A lot of people want to get into eSports, but if it were that easy everyone would be successful,” Gutstein said. “Our audience sniffs bullshit better than any other audience in the entire world. It has to be authentic. We have a track record of doing this for more than a decade.”
The CW aired the finale of Machinima’s third season of eSports docu-series “Chasing the Cup” in February — the first eSports show on U.S. broadcast television. “Mortal Kombat X: Machinima’s Chasing The Cup,” took a behind-the-scenes look at top professional eSports competitors as they prepared to compete in the championship of the ESL Mortal Kombat X Pro League Finals.
In March, Machinima’s eSports reality series “Training Camp” launched on Sony’s PlayStation Vue. The series features two top “Starcraft” players, Polt and viOLet, who each train a team of amateur players in the hopes of turning them into champions.
Once regarded as a niche phenomenon, eSports has exploded in popularity worldwide. By 2017, an estimated 190 million viewers will watch eSports, up from 76 million in 2012, according to research firm Newzoo.