Turner Sports’ Craig Barry on ELEAGUE Super Punch Talk Show
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Turner has almost exclusively been focusing on esports since it founded ELEAGUE in 2016, airing events across several different publishers and games including Rocket League and EA Sports FIFA, among others.
But Turner Sports Chief Content Officer Craig Barry said that the network feels the time is right to move beyond that into the wider world of streaming and overall gaming, even though it plans to retain a presence in esports proper as well. He compared esports to a spoke on the broader gaming wheel and said that focusing only on the former would limit Turner’s potential to grow in gaming.
“Esports is a publishers’ game, and it continues to be; we’re not a league at all, we’re a high-end content company who really likes to dabble in gaming content, culture and esports,” said Barry. “As we’ve evolved over the last three years since the inception of ELEAGUE, when we started with a really authentic esports presence, we’ve evolved into a much broader gaming cultural brand.”
The show is a collaboration between Turner and Twitch, and it will air on Fridays starting on Twitch at 11:00 p.m. ET to midnight, then going to TBS for an hour before going back to Twitch for a final third hour. Barry described it as a 50/50 partnership with the sides equally splitting revenue.
The show will be hosted by streaming personalities and include highlights from around the gaming/esports world plus other interactive elements. Hosts include Kelly Nugent, J.D. Witherspoon, Ify Nwadiwe and Alex Corea.
Barry said that the shift to streaming and gaming gives the company far more content creation opportunities than if it just focused on pure esport.
“We love esports; we think there’s an audience for it. (But with streaming), there’s a white space there to showcase these talented content streamers and creators, and the culture that is wrapped around that,” said Barry. “It’s all-inclusive and less fragmented (than esports), meaning everyone wants to be entertained regardless of platform and game.”
Adam Stern is a staff writer for Sports Business Journal, where this article first appeared.
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