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ProSiebenSat.1-owned 7Sports secures global streaming rights in ESL renewal

ESL logo on show at 2019 Gamescom trade fair in Cologne (Photo by Lukas Schulze/Getty Images)

The 7Sports subsidiary of German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 has retained rights to esports events organised by ESL, the tournament organiser and production company, until at least 2022.

The previous two-year agreement between 7Sports and ESL expired at the end of 2019 and a new three-year deal was announced today (Friday).

Along with exclusive television rights in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, 7Sports has also acquired global digital rights that it can showcase on its esports.com portal. In acquiring the worldwide digital rights, 7Sports will look to limit the loss of viewers to the popular streaming trio of Facebook, Twitch and YouTube.

7Sports said that esports.com, which has until now been focused on German-speaking countries, will be rolled out globally this year.

At the start of last year, ESL ended the exclusive nature of its Facebook streaming agreement as it embraced a non-exclusive digital streaming model.

The new agreement with 7Sports includes rights to the new ESL Pro Tour and its finals, the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice and ESL Cologne. In addition to being streamed on esports.com, the events will also be broadcast by the ProSieben Maxx or ProSieben Fun television channels.

This season’s coverage will begin on Sunday with the final of the Intel Extreme Masters on ProSieben Fun. The 16-team Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament in Katowice, which will not allow spectators to attend this year due to concerns over the coronavirus, offers a $500,000 ($545,550) prize fund. Other ESL events will be shown on ProSiebenSat.1 channels either live or as highlights.

A highlight for German viewers will be the ESL One Cologne event on July 10.

A weekly eSports magazine programme (ran eSports – Professional. Gaming. Magazine.) will also start next week on the free-to-air ProSieben Maxx.

Commenting on the new broadcast deal in German-speaking markets, Torsten Haux, ESL’s vice-president of global media rights, said: “This co-operation shows one thing above all: eSports has proved its potential to tie young audience groups to traditional media companies and their platforms and enthral them in the process.”

7Sports last week announced a restructuring of its operations as Željko Karajica, a leading figure in the German sports media-rights industry, left ProSiebenSat.1. Thomas Port, managing director of SevenOne Media, the ProSiebenSat.1-owned advertising agency, has become one of two managing directors of 7Sports, joining Stefan Zant, who has been in place since its foundation in 2016.

Announcing a new strategic direction for 7Sports, the commercial broadcast group said: “ProSiebenSat.1 is setting itself on the course for the further growth of its sports business unit. In the future, 7Sports will position itself as a leading digital sports marketer in the German-speaking region with strategic 360-degree partnerships.

“Through this, not only will our own products and activities be marketed, but also co-operations with third parties will be strategically implemented.”

Karajica and Zant came together to form 7Sports as a unit responsible for rights acquisition, new digital platforms, sports productions, events and athlete management.

In April 2019, 7Sports increased its stake in the DOSB New Media division of the German Olympic Sports Confederation by acquired a further 10-per-cent interest to up its stake to 67.5 per cent. Four months ago, 7Sports renewed its Virtual Bundesliga (VBL) rights agreement with the German Football League (DFL).