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Facebook and ESL Expand Their Partnership

Brandon Contes

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Facebook and esports company, ESL, have announced a partnership which makes the social network an exclusive destination for ESL leagues and tournaments.

Beginning January 23rd the ESL One tournament series featuring Counter-Strike and Dota 2 will stream live through Facebook Watch. A previous announcement between ESL and Facebook from last May stated the social media giant would broadcast 5500 hours of ESL content. This week’s agreement will be in addition to those 5500 hours.

Twitch has previously been a more attractive esports destination, already partnering with The Overwatch League, signing a two-year $90 million deal last week. Blizzard announced The Overwatch League’s opening day on January 10th averaged 408,000 viewers per minute.

As Jacob Wolf from ESPN noted, that number is more average viewers than Amazon received during their Thursday Night Football stream. The NFL, however, did average over 10 million TNF viewers on linear television in addition to Amazon’s stream. Still, ESL chose Facebook over Twitch, as their landing spot.

“We look at Facebook as the best of both worlds,” says Ken Hershman, the commissioner of the World Esports Association, an industry collaboration between top teams and ESL. “It’s a tremendous streaming platform, but it’s obviously a social and engagement platform.”

According to Wired.com, one reason ESL chose Facebook over Twitch is the future of their viewing experience. Through Facebook 360 and 5G networks, ESL will soon be broadcasting tournaments to mobile devices in VR. Facebook also has a nearly 10 times larger daily reach than Twitch.

The first official tournament broadcast as part of their new deal on Facebook will be next week, with ESL One Genting on January 23rd, followed by the CS:GO Pro League beginning its season on February 13th.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

Netflix CEO: ‘We’re Not Anti-Sports, We’re Just Pro-Profit’

“He characterized expensive media rights as a “loss leader” in the streaming world and noted that Netflix doesn’t view sports as a necessity to grow.”

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Netflix will not join Apple and Amazon in the rush to gobble up live sports rights. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos addressed the streaming giant’s disinterest at the UBS Global Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Wednesday.

He characterized expensive media rights as a “loss leader” in the streaming world and noted that Netflix doesn’t view sports as a necessity to grow.

“We’re not anti-sports,” Sarandos said according to Deadline. “We’re just pro-profit. We have yet to figure out how to do it. But I’m very confident we can get twice as big as we are without sports.” 

Questions about the interest the company has in carrying live sports have come up several times in the past. Sarandon made similar comments last year when asked about it.

Reed Hastings, Sarandos’s co-CEO at Netflix, has a slightly different view. In 2021, he indicated that Netflix could be interested in F1 rights someday thanks to the success of its documentary series Drive to Survive, but that would be a special case. Any league interested in doing business with Netflix, he said, would have to allow Netflix to control all of its content.

Ted Sarandos echoed that sentiment in his most recent comments. He said that the company does not see a way to profit by “renting big-league sports.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling

“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”

Jordan Bondurant

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An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.

Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.

The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.

The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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