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Sport1 lands sublicensed ESL rights, Flashpoint secures Russian deal

Germany-based sports broadcaster Sport1 has acquired rights to esports events organised by ESL, the tournament organiser and production company.

As part of a sublicensing agreement with 7Sports, the sports business unit of the ProSiebenSat.1 Group, Sport1 will cover the ESL Pro League over the next three years live via its pay-television channel eSports1. Coverage will commence on Monday with the start of this season’s group stage.

In addition, Sport1 said it has secured live rights to ESL One Rio de Janeiro and “numerous competitions” organised by DreamHack, along with highlights to other tournaments from the new ESL Pro Tour. Those rights cover Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Selected live broadcasts and highlights will also shown on a free-to-air basis on the flagship Sport1 channel and via the broadcaster’s digital platforms.

In February, 7Sports retained rights to events organised by ESL until at least 2022. Along with exclusive television rights in German-speaking countries, 7Sports also acquired global digital rights that it can showcase on its esports.com portal.

Magazine programme bwin Inside eSports will report regularly on the tournaments from the ESL Pro Tour. Sport1, which launched its linear esports channel at the start of 2019, has worked in association with the ESL since 2016.

Speaking just after the one-year anniversary of the launch of eSports1, Daniel von Busse, chief operating officer at Sport1, defended the decision to launch a linear channel for a pursuit which enjoys huge popularity on streaming platforms (such as Twitch).

He recently told delegates at the Spobis conference: “I definitely believe it was the right decision because esports, as an entertainment product, needs to be treated in an editorial way. So we add value to the product and something editorial behind it, explain the sport and its beauty to make it even more valuable.

“So yes, it’s worth it to have a linear channel. Let’s make this product better and more valuable than it already is.”

Meanwhile, fledgling competition Flashpoint has agreed a Russian rights deal with esports media content producer RuHub.

RuHub has obtained exclusive broadcasting rights to Flashpoint broadcasts in Russian. Flashpoint’s inaugural season will commence with group-stage matches from March 13 to April 6. The play-offs will be held from April 9-14, and the final games of the tournament will be staged on April 18-19.

Flashpoint is a US-based CS:GO league organised and sponsored by rival esports organisations. The league aims to ensure stable growth of CS:GO ecosystem by challenging the existing monopoly of the major tournament operators, as well as attracting long-term partnerships to the teams.

Revealed last month, Flashpoint’s ownership group includes long-standing investors in esports, such as Lionsgate, AEG, OverActive Media and Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, with notable esports teams such as Gen.G, Dignitas and Cloud9 among those set to compete.