Sports enthusiast hub ESPN launches its owndedicated eSports section this week, headlined by a handful of known eSports reporters, as it doubles down on its earlier efforts to cover video games as a competitive sport.
It’s a notable, if unsurprising, move forward by the sports media giant, which has been taking tentative steps into covering eSports for some time now by (among other things) partnering with developers like Valve and Blizzard to broadcast tournaments of games like Dota 2 and Heroes of the Storm on ESPN channels, and earlier this year publishing an issue of ESPN Magazine dedicated to eSports.
The move is also a bit amusing in the wake of Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick’s decision to describe his company’s acquisition of Major League Gaming earlier this month as a deal that “furthers our plans to create the ESPN of eSports.”
Now that ESPN is running its own dedicated eSports coverage site it will be interesting to see which is the ultimate ESPN of eSports, especially in light of the fact that Activision Blizzard hired former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein to run its new competitive gaming division late last year.
For its part, ESPN has hired a number of eSports journalists to fill out its new eSports hub, including former GameSpot eSports editor Rod “Slasher” Breslau, one-time theScore eSports writer Tyler Erzberger and former Azubu managing editor Darin Kwilinski.
The new ESPN eSports hub also stands in stark contrast to ESPN president John Skipper’s comments in 2014 that he wasn’t interested in covering eSports on ESPN because he didn’t consider them a sport.