E-sports programmer Major League Gaming has spent the last decade building an audience of video game enthusiasts, through events in which gamers go head-to-head with each other. Now it’s looking to bring those viewers to a an owned and operated premium sports network of its own, at MLG.TV.
Over the years, MLG has tried a number of different distribution platforms for its events and programming. Founded in 2002, the company has gone from broadcasting its events on cable networks like ESPN to shifting its programming online. It’s also gone through a period of different streaming plans, which included white-labeled streaming platforms, as well as a partnership with Twitch.
“We’ve been streaming our events for six or seven years, we’ve done network TV, we’ve done cable TV,” MLG co-founder and CEO Sundance DiGiovanni told me. “We’ve done our own platform, we’ve done white-label, we’ve done Ustream…”
Now, the e-sports broadcaster is ready to launch its own online gaming network, and it’s bringing along a couple of partners. For MLG, the launch of its own network is designed to help it better monetize its events online. User-generated platforms are great, DiGiovanni says, but they pose a challenge for a premium brand and content platform when they sell to advertisers online.
And so MLG.TV was born. The new owned and operated platform will stream up to 1080p HD video, and have built-in Twitter chat, which will enable viewers to instantly share what they’re watching with their followers on the social network, while also seeing what other fans are watching.
That’s part of MLG’s plan to bring viewers in for appointment-like viewing online. MLG.TV will stream the company’s live events, such as this week’s MLG Championship in Columbus, Ohio. It will also run a series of its own new shows, such as the eSports Report, which will air weekly on Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm ET. All of which is part of MLG’s plan to have a TV-like linear programming schedule.
For MLG, the decision to launch its own network comes as the company not only sees growing interest in e-sports, but also as it’s starting to see separation between the user-generated content that is being broadcast on some platforms and the type of premium content that it’s producing. It’s hoping that will help differentiate it, and ultimately that it’ll be able to make more ad dollars as a result.