ESPN to shut down esports editorial division
ESPN, the US sports broadcasting giant, has announced it is shutting down its entire esports editorial division, ending its daily news coverage of the burgeoning esports industry.
The company launched its esport-specific vertical in 2016, publishing editorial content and broadcasting high-profile events, including the Overwatch League Playoffs and the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series Spring playoffs.
The broadcaster said while it will still air esports events, the division will no longer publish new news or articles and its social media accounts will no longer be updated.
An ESPN spokesperson said: “We have made the difficult decision to cease operations for our dedicated esports editorial and content. We recognise esports as an opportunity to expand our audience, and we’ll continue to do so through coverage from the broader team for major events, breaking new and coverage.”
ESPN has secured rights for various events on an event-by-event basis, with upcoming broadcasts including NBA 2K, the basketball simulation game, and motor racing series' V10 R-League and F1 Esports.
In the last year, only 25 of the 288 ESPN esports events streamed on Twitch and Amazon generated over 1,000 viewers, according to TwitchTracker.com. The ESPN Rocket League Invitational tournament streams from 24 to 26 July saw more than 15,000 viewers log-in and watch every day.
The announcement comes less than a week after the network announced it would be cutting 500 jobs, or 10 per cent of its work force, as a means to combat the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the business.
Of the 500 positions being eliminated, 300 would be laid off, while the other 200 are positions that have not yet been filled.