Series One of the London-based Gfinity Elite Series tournament will be available to watch on BBC 3 and BBC iPlayer, and some aren’t happy (see ‘Reaction’ below).
BBC said it’s ‘the first deal of its kind’ in this announcement post. It will broadcast four hours of coverage every weekend for the next six weeks.
The British broadcaster made the announcement on Twitter, and said it was the first time ever esports are coming to BBC 3. However, that’s not technically true as it already broadcast the League of Legends World Championship in late 2015 and the Supergamers documentary in early 2016).
— BBC Three (@bbcthree) July 28, 2017
It’s worth noting that BBC 3 is not a TV channel, it’s an online-only offering aimed at a younger demographic.
The news comes after Gfinity revamped its Arena in Fulham Broadway to have more of a TV-style studio feel, and signed a global Elite Series TV deal.
This means that coverage of the Elite Series will air in the UK, US, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Poland, Singapore and Taiwan,
The Elite Series is a three-game tournament with a £225,000 prize pool. It includes eight teams, some based in the UK and other bigger orgs like Epsilon and EnvyUs are also taking part. See more info on those taking part here.
BBC will broadcast the Street Fighter V matches from 9pm on Fridays, while CSGO matches will be covered from 9pm on Saturdays. Then on Sundays, Rocket League action will take place from 5pm.
The first coverage gets underway this evening (Friday July 28th).
“This is an incredible moment for the Gfinity Elite Series and for esports fans in the UK and internationally.”
Neville Upton, Gfinity
Neville Upton, CEO of Gfinity, said: “This is an incredible moment for the Gfinity Elite Series and for esports fans in the UK and internationally.
“Our partnership with BBC Three will bring Elite Series live and lifestyle content to millions of new viewers and showcase the incredible dedication and passion of professional gamers.”
Damian Kavanagh, Controller at BBC Three, added: “Esports has become hugely popular in the last few years with young audiences, so it’s great that BBC Three can bring this to a mainstream audience and create new habits with younger audiences as we stream three of the most popular games on BBC Three across the weekend.”
The BBC has had a mixed foray into the world of esports coverage. It’s done a decent job with the League of Legends Worlds and Supergamers documentary, but a poor job of news reporting and understanding what esports is and how it works.
The problem lies with BBC’s size, there are so many news teams that work independently from one another and don’t properly share information internally.
You can watch the Elite Series on BBC Three or BBC iPlayer.
We’ve included a mix of esports industry folk and some outside of esports.
Good news, but not the first time ever @bbcthree – how quickly they forget.
I remember at High School telling everyone that esports will be on mainstream TV and got essentially laughed at… we made it! BBC Three ❤
— Kieran Holmes-Darby (@xL_Kieran) July 28, 2017
Can’t believe the amount of ignorant responses to the Gfinity x BBC partnership, I sometimes forget that people don’t see esports as legit ?
— Mitsouko Anderson (@MittyAnderson) July 28, 2017
It’s eshit, ewank, ebollocks, ebagofcrap .
— Bus (@Bus__23) July 28, 2017
Really happy for Gfinity with this move and encouraged for the future of us all that the BBC took this gamble.
— Bulldog_Newts (@Bulldog_Newts) July 28, 2017
— Darren Slam Newnham (@DarrenNewnham) July 28, 2017
What is it? A pretend game for people who can’t make friends in real life.
How big is it? About as big as dungeons & dragons, similar fans
— WHU Scott (@whuscott) July 28, 2017
You clearly have no idea how big an audience esports has then. Do some research before you pipe up on a subject you know nothing about. ?
— Barrage Jeff (@Barrage_Jeff) July 28, 2017
Sport?? Sad fuckin generation playing video games instead of gettin out in the fresh air
— james (@jlo_lcfc) July 28, 2017
Man i love the amount of people getting pissed at this, broaden your minds you plebs. Esports is coming, like it or not 😉
— James de Mercado (@Aevelyz) July 28, 2017
“ESPORTS IS NOT A SPORT” – Sad, old git replies, who couldn’t take on ANY of the contenders, even the lowest tier, in any of the disciplines
— Daav ‘Suicidal’ Puke (@DaavPuke) July 28, 2017
What a joke, this is not sport, never has been, never will be. It’s ppl playing computer games. Might as well televise a Monopoly tournament
— #ToriesOut (@M0djadji) July 28, 2017
give my money back, I ain’t paying for this crap and I don’t get bbc3, time to end this tax.
— christopher v jones (@v_christoper) July 28, 2017
And now they make more money than most people do. And they have a fan base all over the world. I guess being a ‘nerd’ is not that bad
— Toby (@Mega__Toby) July 28, 2017
- Gfinity signs global TV deal and invests $2.7m in US esports firm
- BBC’s solid coverage of UK esports marred by presenter’s final remark
- Gfinity’s Elite Series prize pool is £225,000
- The 27 worst reader comments from the BBC’s latest article on esports
- BBC TV show on women in esports makes further inaccuracies following article backlash
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League player and WoW RPer, he has written for a range of publications including Games TM, Nintendo Official Magazine, games industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games. He currently works as full-time content director for the British Esports Association.