Turner and WME | IMG Form Strategic Partnership to Create Groundbreaking eSports League

Newly Formed League to Offer Innovative Live Event Experience from Custom eSports Operations Center in Atlanta-Based Turner Studios

First Premier Video Game Publisher Valve Corporation Signs On With Hit Title Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

TBS to Exclusively Televise eSports Competitive Gaming Events Beginning in 2016

Turner and WME | IMG have formed a new strategic partnership to create an eSports competitive gaming league, the companies announced today.  Through the venture, Turner and WME | IMG will deliver competitive gaming events for all platforms including premium live fan experiences, televised coverage airing exclusively on TBS and extensive, high quality live digital event coverage and content extensions.  Turner Studios in Atlanta will become the East Coast epicenter for eSports competitive gaming, serving as the headquarters for the new league and primary operations facility for the live gaming experience.

Leading video game publisher Valve Corporation’s popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensivewill be the featured game during the league’s first season. Turner Sports will produce the eSports competitions – in association with WME | IMG – and facilitate ad sales and sponsorship opportunities surrounding the new league.

All aspects of the eSports league – including the live event experience – will be jointly managed by Turner and WME | IMG, with Turner Studios providing a state-of-the-art facility specifically created to showcase the live gaming competitions.  Slated to begin in 2016, the televised presentation of the competitive gaming events will feature 10 consecutive weeks of programming twice per year – the most extensive commitment to televised eSports programming to date – airing Friday nights on TBS.

In 2016, eSports tournaments will be televised twice per year with each 10-week period including a regular season, playoffs and championship.  Both tournaments will include eSports teams facing off in competition while playing Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Additionally, digital coverage will include live daily competitive gaming content distributed Tuesday through Friday during each tournament week, as well as a live digital companion experience on Friday nights offered simultaneously with the TBS presentation.  Digital content will also include behind-the-scenes event coverage and profiles on the eSports teams and competitors, with additional eSports coverage available through Bleacher Report’s top-rated Team Stream App.

“eSports is one of the fastest growing entertainment genres among young adults around the world,” said Lenny Daniels, president of Turner Sports. “We’re looking forward to creating a tremendous live event atmosphere, leveraging the infrastructure and expertise within Turner Studios, and presenting the competitions in an innovative way throughout our portfolio of leading brands.”

“We are proud to establish a leadership position in this rapidly growing arena, which I see as a tent pole for the next chapter of TBS,” said Kevin Reilly, president of TBS and TNT, chief creative officer for Turner. “The level of rabid fandom and engagement that we see in this world is extraordinary and we aim to up the experience for both the players and fans alike and provide a cutting-edge live experience on both linear and digital TBS platforms.”

“The eSports environment is purpose-built for a generation that consumes content across multiple platforms and seeks unique live experiences,” said Mark Shapiro, chief content officer, WME | IMG. “We’re proud to be partnering with Turner to give competitive gaming a first-of-its-kind platform to meet the needs of the industry’s growing fan base and attract new audiences around the world.”

“WME | IMG is constantly seeking new ways to help fans enjoy the eSports they love and attract more fans to the sport,” said Tobias Sherman, head of WME | IMG’s eSports division. “This venture is a great example of our commitment to growing the eSports industry, and Turner is the perfect partner to make this a reality. We’ve so enjoyed working with Valve and the teams through this endeavor, and we’re excited for the future.”

WME | IMG has deep expertise in the eSports world. The company’s eSports business operates as a full-service team management, marketing and representation firm with specialties in brand consulting, digital and live event management, marketing, and licensing. Additionally, the company is involved in more than 800 live events around the world each year and is the largest independent producer and distributor of sports programming in the world, distributing more than 32,000 hours each year from more than 200 organizations and events.

eSports is a term used to refer to organized, multiplayer video gaming competitions that are rapidly expanding in popularity on a global scale.  According to data provided by NewZoo, global eSports viewership is more than 226 million people with the total expected to climb to 323 million by 2018.  Domestically, the eSports audience is currently 32 million people with anticipated growth to more than 50 million by 2017.  Over half of adult eSports viewers are younger than 35 years old, based on a Superdata eSports Market Brief released earlier this year.

The addition of eSports competitive gaming is one of many live events set to air on TBS in early 2016. The network’s Spring slate will also feature the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Final Four, including TBS’s first-ever telecast of the National Championship game, as well as the iHeartRadio Music Awards. TBS’s upcoming live event programming will also include the first-ever Live Nation Music Awards – co-executive produced with IMG – in June and Turner Sports’ annual coverage of the Major League Baseball Postseason in October.

More details on the newly formed eSports league – including the schedule of competitive events, along with locations and programming information – will be announced later this year.

About Turner

TBS, TNT and truTV are part of Turner, a Time Warner company.  Turner creates and programs branded news; entertainment; kids and young adult; and sports media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.                  

About WME | IMG

WME | IMG is the global leader in entertainment, sports, events, media and fashion. Operating in more than 25 countries, the company specializes in talent representation and management; brand strategy, activation and licensing; media production and distribution; and event management.