We’re a bit late to the party with this one, but according to the LA Times, Riot Games is close to wrapping up a landmark eSports deal with Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) to sell streaming rights to the LCS league for $200 million for a period of 2 years. As-is, LCS matches have been broadcast on streaming sites like Twitch and Youtube through Riot Games’ own channel, but after the MLB deal, the games will likely be watchable on MLB’s own app. According to the LA Times article, it’s possible that the new app may require a subscription of some kind to view the games (which may also include an exclusive in game item), but nothing is official just yet. I suspect games will be viewable for free though, as I don’t think people are going to pay to watch LCS games, but a free mid-quality stream with a paid HD one may be feasible.
eSports has historically been a loss leader for Riot Games, but that should all change with this deal, as $200 million for 2 years of streaming rights is a good chunk of change. According to our most profitable MMOs article, League of Legends brought in $1.6 billion globally in 2015. Adding another $100 million a year on top of that is a good chunk of change, especially considering the eSports division has been losing money in the past.
Remember, a deal has not closed yet and it could all still fall apart, but seeing a serious traditional sport league like the MLB taking eSports seriously makes me optimistic about the future of eSports.