Facebook and esports company, ESL, have announced a partnership which makes the social network an exclusive destination for ESL leagues and tournaments.
Beginning January 23rd the ESL One tournament series featuring Counter-Strike and Dota 2 will stream live through Facebook Watch. A previous announcement between ESL and Facebook from last May stated the social media giant would broadcast 5500 hours of ESL content. This week’s agreement will be in addition to those 5500 hours.
Twitch has previously been a more attractive esports destination, already partnering with The Overwatch League, signing a two-year $90 million deal last week. Blizzard announced The Overwatch League’s opening day on January 10th averaged 408,000 viewers per minute.
As Jacob Wolf from ESPN noted, that number is more average viewers than Amazon received during their Thursday Night Football stream. The NFL, however, did average over 10 million TNF viewers on linear television in addition to Amazon’s stream. Still, ESL chose Facebook over Twitch, as their landing spot.
“We look at Facebook as the best of both worlds,” says Ken Hershman, the commissioner of the World Esports Association, an industry collaboration between top teams and ESL. “It’s a tremendous streaming platform, but it’s obviously a social and engagement platform.”
According to Wired.com, one reason ESL chose Facebook over Twitch is the future of their viewing experience. Through Facebook 360 and 5G networks, ESL will soon be broadcasting tournaments to mobile devices in VR. Facebook also has a nearly 10 times larger daily reach than Twitch.
The first official tournament broadcast as part of their new deal on Facebook will be next week, with ESL One Genting on January 23rd, followed by the CS:GO Pro League beginning its season on February 13th.