Over the past few years, gamers have seen eSports evolve from a niche competition with a dedicated cult following into a bona fide phenomenon with an international audience. As prize pools and viewing figures continue to grow, it’s only to be expected that the community will see high profile events receive more media coverage.
Earlier this year, ESPN ruffled some feathers by airing footage from a Heroes of the Storm tournament — a decision that left some viewers cold, but garnered a lot of attention on social media. It seems that the experiment was deemed a success, as the company has now posted a job listing for a dedicated eSports editor.
The job description points to an editor that will help produce print, audio and video content and namechecks major titles like League of Legends, Hearthstone and Counter-Strike. Obviously, coverage would likely go beyond the games listed, but it seems that ESPN is keen to target the biggest properties first and foremost.
This search for an eSports editor seems to fly in the face of comments made last year by the president of ESPN, John Skipper. Back then, Skipper maintained that while eSports could be seen as competition, they weren’t real sports — and he was ‘mostly’ interested in covering ‘real’ sports.
It’s been a year since Skipper described eSports as such, and it’s easy to see why the pervading opinion at the company might have changed. Whether it can be seen as a ‘real’ sport or not, there are plenty of people around the world who are very interested in watching the competition unfold, and that speaks to a need for quality coverage.
Of course, that’s not to downplay the accomplishments of the broadcasters, analysts and commentators that cover eSports today. The job listing asks specifically for a candidate who’s well aware of the best writers on the beat, so it can be assumed that the eventual editor will be looking to assemble a team from the premier talent available.
With the backing of the company, ESPN’s eSports coverage could quickly become the best in the business. The right editor could put together a group of top-tier journalists, and use the production tools at his or her disposal to blow any competition out of the water in terms of the quality of presentation. Beyond anything else, that would be good for eSports.
Sports coverage is a two-way street — it appeals to existing fans for obvious reasons, but it also serves the purpose of hyping up individual events and the sport as a whole, putting more eyes on the action. ESPN coverage could do plenty to legitimize eSports to those not yet convinced, and the end product of that is audiences even larger than they are today.
Would you watch eSports on ESPN? Let us know in the comments.