The Overwatch League Grand Finals will be aired on the main stage of television sports.
The news: On July 27, ESPN will be the first TV network to air a professional gaming contest in prime time. Competitors will be playing Overwatch, a cartoon first-person shooter created by video-game developer Blizzard. Additional days of the competition will air on ABC and Disney XD.
Some background: The Overwatch League has been modeled after a traditional sports league—while others have clans that come and go, Overwatch created teams associated with cities that are in things for the long haul. So it makes sense it’s the first to get picked up by a big network.
Does esports even need TV? As Wired said, this prime-time broadcast is “a test of whether esports needs television, or the other way around.” Some argue the e-sports industry has been eating up traditional sports viewership. On the other hand, professional gaming is thriving without traditional broadcasting methods, instead using live-streaming platforms like Twitch to amass millions of views. But if e-sports wants to go mainstream, TV is still the most obvious avenue to do so.