3Q: A Look into Esports with Turner's Jennifer Dill
Esports has become quite the phenomenon over the past couple of years, and its audience is expected to grow even more as mainstream audiences are introduced to the concept of watching professional gamers compete against each other. And, as the much of the world is now spending the majority of their time at home during COVID-19, many people are turning their time and attention to gaming and esports.
As cable’s broadband networks become more robust and bring the 10G speeds of the future, programmers like Turner Sports are providing a platform that's rich and exciting for gamers and casual viewers alike. Turner Sports has been a leader on the esports front, coming out with ELEAGUE several years ago, an esports and gaming entertainment brand that produces premium content focused on gaming culture, esports competitions, professional players and their stories. ELEAGUE has aired top moments from world-class professional competitions across dozens of popular game titles, including a wide range of originally produced shows on TBS along with live competition coverage streamed on digital networks.
NCTA spoke with Turner Sports’ Vice President of Esports, Jennifer Dill, to learn more about how the network has been experimenting in this space and looking to reach new audiences in a variety of ways. See our latest three questions interview with Dill below.
Can you speak to the growth of esports at Turner, in particular ELEAGUE?
We made our debut with ELEAGUE in 2016. We started with the presentation of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and as we've evolved over the past four years we've always made an effort to talk about authenticity in this space, and how important it is to help this space grow overall. From a Turner Sports perspective, we've been able to infuse our expertise in what we're doing from a production, storytelling, and sales standpoint, and we've started to recently lean more heavily into games and opportunities that speak more to the lifestyle genre. We're looking at how we can apply that to some of our other [traditional sports] properties. If you look at what we did with FIFA, NBA ALL Star, and Rocket League, it's not that we're not doing the Counter-Strike events or any of the hard core games anymore, it's that we're also looking at expanding titles into areas we think can bring in a broader audience. We look at TBS as an entry point and are trying to figure out how we can construct those cultural adjacencies and really help build that up from that perspective.
What has your strategy been when it comes to esports content?
Well, we are always experimenting. We have the luxury of being a part of a larger company, but we've been given the space to continue to iterate, evolve, see where the space has gone. It's notable how much the overall esports ecosystem in the U.S. has exploded since we've been in the space. We were a part of that certainly, but as we've evolved, just figuring out how that can grow and how we can be a part of it has been critical to our overall strategy.
What are some of the exciting developments ahead in esports at Turner Sports?
We are continuing to work at finding ways to tie in those greater cultural moments. That all becomes more and more critical as we develop and grow. That's what we try to do everyday, and we think about how we can bring those moments not only to Turner Sports but to the greater WarnerMedia and the AT&T umbrella. In the near term, we are all-in on our new, live, gaming culture show ELEAGUE Super Punch powered by Twitch. It’s live at twitch.tv/superpunch every weekday, with special showcase episodes airing live on TBS.