ESPN To Cover Gaming
I might let you call me a prophet, a little earlier than expected. I kid, I kid, and I was kidding in March 2006 when I asked readers not to call me that for another 20 years. It wasn’t too hard to predict, thanks to a Microsoft patent about it, and in 2008 comes the next stage: ESPN’s coverage of professional video gaming.
Again, not too hard of a prediction considering the coverage of poker and fishing. People will watch anything.
Back in ’06, I thought maybe in 2026 people would be shelling out to watch a video soccer World Cup match on pay-per-view. That may happen at a bit more of an accelerated pace.
Microsoft’s 5000th patent included creating a portal via Xbox 360 where fans could access online broadcasts of video game matches, making them essentially spectator sports. Though at the time I felt like the idea was a bit ridiculous (even if inevitable), I’ve since caught myself watching with interest the way my 14-year-old stepson navigates Mass Effect and Zelda.
So not so crazy anymore, and ESPN is picking up on that. The sporting network has signed a multiyear agreement with Major League Gaming to cover the 2008 Pro Circuit competitions, with streamed match-ups, player interviews, scores, stats, et cetera.
Right now it seems like the beginning stages – short segments, matches, and reporting and more coverage at ESPN360.com, but ESPN executives acknowledge that the next step may be to cover an entire MLG season on one its channels.
Yup, next stop: pay-per-view. What do you think? Maybe by 2011? Sponsored by Google’s surprise entry into the console market, a high tech, lightweight, data-in-the-cloud-driven, Apple collaboration called iGame?
No, that might be too exciting.