Esports Advisor for NGame Esports, Chris Louey, shares his perspective about the BLAST and Winstrike broadcast deal.
According to Esports Insider, “Winstrike will broadcast BLAST Premier on television, online, and across theatrical platforms with its coverage of the BLAST Premier 2020 in the CIS region.” The broadcast agreement should add more viewership to Blast Counter-Strike tournaments, but also increase CSGO engagement in the region. In 2018, Dota 2 dominated the CIS region in popularity. By measuring peak viewership on Russian broadcasts, Five (5) Dota 2 tournaments had higher peak viewership levels on Russian broadcasts compared to any CSGO tournament. Even when the scope is limited to CIS tournaments, Dota 2 still has a higher peak viewership. By signing this deal, Blast appears to be filling an open space where CSGO viewers can have more options and accessibility to tournament events. Televised content takes away barriers for some of your average viewers, especially those who do not watch content online. With the continued emergence of esports, increasing viewership and engagement should be the company’s priority when considering who to make business deals with.
Winstrike had previously co-produced the BLAST Pro Series Moscow this year by handling production and promotion in the region. It appears that the broadcasting and media production company did well for the event as this deal gives them the exclusive rights to sponsorship, gambling, and marketing for the CIS region. Winstrike can negotiate more favorable sponsorship terms with companies who want their products or services to be noticed by the influx of potential viewers. Winstrike will also take advantage of the betting rights in BLAST Premier events. Betting is a significant factor in viewership for sporting events. As more people bet, the more likely people will watch the competitions. It is no different in esports. In the long term, this deal can lead other tournament organizers to partner with Winstrike and have a more substantial impact on the media production side of esports and entertainment. Winstrike is poised to make a significant media footprint within the region’s esports environment.
Hate it or not, BLAST is becoming a more influential esports tournament producer in the CSGO world. More and more professional teams are being enticed with BLAST Premier’s unique tournament structure and prize pool, which will reach $4.25 million for 2020. BLAST’s presence in esports and Winstrikes’ scope in the CIS region should expand viewership and help validate esports within mainstream communities.
Blast is known for putting the average fan’s experience above the rest. While many hardcore esports fans may not agree with the mentality, in this case, I believe this is a net positive as more people will have access to watch esports, and many will get to experience a CSGO tournament for the first time. Details of what an esports tournament circuit should look like are being debated and tested. The people at BLAST are making business deals like this because they believe in their vision. We will see if this vision is sustainable.