ESL, the company behind some of the world’s biggest esports tournaments, announced today that Facebook will be the new, exclusive streaming home of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Pro League and the ESL One Dota 2 and CS:GO tournament series. The deal will also include the creation of a new ESL show that highlights some of the biggest moments from that week’s Pro League and ESL One matches.
Last year, ESL struck a deal with YouTube to exclusively broadcast ESL Pro League tournaments, which were previously broadcast on Twitch.
The new deal does not appear to include other ESL tournaments, like the Intel Extreme Masters and ESL Pro League.
ESL’s senior vice president of media rights and distribution, Nik Adams, told Polygon that the company hopes the partnership will help ESL to bring esports to brand new fans.
“We are moving out of the more endemic spaces and platforms where we solely catered to a core esports audience and open up more to a broader audience,” Adams said. “Here we can grow ourselves and our audience a little bit more and maybe lower the barrier to entry to esports a little bit, and bring it to people who haven’t heard of esports before or might have interest but aren’t regular viewers of those core platforms.”
According to Manager, esports Partnerships, at Facebook, Patrick Chapman, the site has already become a destination for fans of ESL and Counter-Strike.
“In 2017 we [ESL] did 2.5 billion impressions and reached over 300 million folks on the Facebook platform,” Chapman said. “Generally speaking, gaming video is a very high priority for us as a company. We see both individual content creators and esports broadcasters as storytellers that are able to attract a community around them.”
This isn’t the first time that ESL has changed its principle streaming platform. Back in 2011 the company started showing its matches on Twitch — when it was still called Justin.tv — instead of streaming service Own3d, a move that has since given them confidence in embracing new platforms for streaming.
“We may lose 10 or 15 percent of our audience, but then we grow because we reach a new audience,” Adams said.
World Esports Association executive chairman and commissioner Ken Hershman pointed to the ESL Pro League’s move from Twitch to YouTube just last year, saying, “there was a few weeks of fall off, but surprisingly the audience recovered more quickly than any of us had anticipated because people want to watch the content not the platform.”
The ESL Pro League will begin its seventh season on Feb. 13, and can be seen on the ESL Facebook page or the ESL website.