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eSports: A Research Note

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I invite comments on this brief note regarding eSports from my current manuscript on the future of television:
Finally, the online digital environment has given rise to a new category of virtual (or electronic) sports, also known as eSports. Three organizations are at the centre of eSports, Major League Gaming, the Electronic Sports League, and European Xtreme Gamers which bring together amateur and professional gamers. Over 600,000 gamers visit the live streaming site, Twitch, daily and the site garners 45 million unique visitors a month. Online gaming franchises have logged over a billion hours of gameplay. The most popular eSport events can attract half a million viewers. Matthew DiPietro, vice president of marketing at Twitch, claims that ‘Collectively, these events match and often beat broadcast/cable TV audience sizes.’

eSports is seen a genre of entertainment that combines hedonistic, competitive, and cooperative elements. Admittedly, this is a much smaller media phenomenon than traditional television but it is indicative of how digital entertainment is creating new forms of online television. Twitch allows gamers to stream their gaming live to online audiences and suggests a future were the audience is the content of online television. This mode of participatory, interactive online video challenges the attempt to restrict the definition of television to the more familiar push and flow dynamics of broadcast systems. eSports events create the liveness, copresense, and flow normally associated with traditional broadcast television. It may prove to be the case that new online forms of televisual entertainment such as eSports are so interactive that they do not translate into the realm of traditional television. Also, with the acquisition of the gaming website IGN.com by the News Corporation and CBS Interactive partnering with Twitch.tv we see the commercialization of the gaming community that may be laying the foundation to a form of virtual sports uniquely suited to post-television culture.

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  1. Randy_Shughart_ClwFL's Avatar
    Interesting.

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