The UK is set to get its first 24-hour eSports TV channel as the world of competitive computer game playing takes its next step towards mainstream popularity.
The new channel, Ginx eSports TV, will get a major boost at launch with Sky and ITV expected to take minority stakes in the business.
"GINX eSports TV aims to add significant mainstream TV exposure to the fast growing eSports ecosystem,” said Ginx TV chief executive Michiel Bakker.
“I am also delighted about the prospect of Sky and ITV joining our shareholder roster, it goes without saying that the combined media footprint and expertise of both presents a significant opportunity for us to make a bigger impact, faster.”
The channel, which will launch in the sports section of Sky’s electronic programme guide, will air tournaments including Turner’s ELeague, which includes the world’s biggest competitive game Counter Strike: Global Offensive.
Once considered a niche pastime eSports is becoming big business, with star players earning salaries and prize pots of up to $12m (£8.5m).
Broadcasts, to date mostly over the internet, have attracted more than 70 million live and on-demand viewers.
A sign of the growing popularity in the UK is a major live event, part of FACE IT’s eSports Championship Series which is also a Counter Strike competition, which is expected to pack out Wembley Arena this month.
Ginx TV is airing the competition live from its new studio in King’s Cross, London.
“eSports is experiencing phenomenal growth and Ginx’s vision is to bring together two incredibly popular forms of entertainment – gaming and television – to create a unique, global proposition,” said Simon Pitts, ITV’s managing director of online, pay and interactive.
“We’re delighted to be partnering with Ginx and Sky as part of our strategy to target younger audiences, develop new programming genres and expand internationally.”
Outside the UK and Ireland the channel will be distributed to an additional 23m households, giving it a total reach of 37m households.
Ginx TV says this will make it the biggest eSports TV channel in the world.
“We look forward to working with Ginx and ITV on developing a channel which will capture the growing appetite for eSports,” said Emma Lloyd, director of business development and strategic partnerships at Sky.
Ginx TV was previously only available on Virgin Media UK’s TV platform.
The new look Ginx TV will happen on June 23rd.
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