Riot Games’ League of Legends competitive matches in the English language are soon likely to be streamed exclusively on a single platform, the developers have confirmed.
Broadcast deals, which see platforms and networks buy the rights to show select programs and events, are the main source of revenue in many sports but this has not translated to esports just yet. However, prospective deals like this from Riot may change that.
After speculation around potential details surfaced a few weeks ago the company has now confirmed it to reporter Adam Stern, saying: “We are evaluating a number of options for our various rights packages.”
Travis Gafford has reported that a potential deal would include all of League of Legends esports in the English language, not just Western events like the North American LCS and European LEC.
While a monetary value has not been reported at this time, which makes sense considering it appears a deal is far from being done, it’s worth noting another notable media rights sale by Riot. In August 2020, they signed a three-year deal worth a reported $113m with Bilibili just for the Chinese rights to the World Championship, Mid-Season Invitational, and All-Star Event.
While it’s a risk to make events less accessible in terms of where they’re available to be watched, securing a high-value long-term streaming deal would provide a level of stability often not found in esports to date.
The likely candidates
YouTube have had a landmark year when it comes to streaming, having signed an exclusive streaming deal with Activision Blizzard for multiple years. The partnership includes the rights to the likes of Call of Duty League, Overwatch League, and Hearthstone esports. They’ve also been spending big to exclusively sign streamers such as 100 Thieves’ Valkyrae and CouRage, Muselk, and PewDiePie.
Twitch, on the other hand, are effectively the unofficial home to esports — with almost every Western broadcast ensuring they’re found on the platform.
Losing League of Legends esports in the English language would be a huge blow, with the recent World Championship boasting 139m hours watched with a peak viewership of almost 3.9m people. It’s not farfetched to think that they’d want to retain such a draw, especially considering the LEC and LCS are included.
There are other platforms that could snatch the streaming rights. The likes of Facebook, Trovo, and DLive are all vying to obtain a bigger share of the gaming and esports audience and acquiring the rights to broadcast the biggest title in esports would definitely make for plenty of headlines.