It’s finally happening: ESPN is in talks with Riot Games to broadcast the annual League of Legends Championship Series, a report from PvP Live indicates. It was only a matter of time before the world’s premiere sports network made moves to broadcast one of the esports world’s biggest events — but what’s most notable about this report is the fact that they may be paying upwards of $500 million for the license.
To put that into perspective: ESPN currently pays the NCAA $600 million per year for the rights to college football, while the NBA rights were recently sold for $2.4 billion. The fact that the rights to the LCS are already approaching the value of the biggest sports on television is astounding and speaks volumes about the future of esports. The LCS accounts for a whopping 22.8 million hours of consumed entertainment and 36 million unique viewers tuned into last year’s final — a dumbfounding pair of statistics that certainly appeal to the deal-makers at ESPN.
The specifics of the negotiations remain cloudy and we have a ton of questions. Will $500 million also buy ESPN the rights to the League of Legends European Championship, or is it just for the LCS? How will a deal like this impact streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube, the likes of which Riot already has contracts with?
Fandom will fill you in as further details emerge. Stay tuned.