Starting on April 11, the LCS games are coming to ESPN2. The deal will run through April 19 when the LCS will crown a new spring champion. The full schedule goes as follow:
Every series is played to the best-of-five. The VOD will be available on the ESPN App immediately after the final game each day. The LCS will continue to broadcast through LoL Esports, Twitch, and YouTube. On April 8, the LCS ran a test on the ESPN App with the series between 100 Thieves and TSM. The only difference is the new three-minute pauses between games.
The deal comes at a unique time. The current global situation with the ongoing pandemic has affected every televised traditional sport, so traditional broadcast networks are in desperate need of content to fill the time. Esports is one of the few competitive industries that is still running with few interruptions.
ESPN is no stranger to esports, as the network aired the Overwatch League matches throughout 2019. In Latin America, ESPN has previously hosted “ESPN Challenge: Road to League of Legends”, a reality competition where players battled for a chance to be scouted by a professional team.
Riot Games and ESPN partnered in 2019 during the World Championship through the ESPN App and on ESPN+. Now, League of Legends is reaching television screens across the United States on a bigger venue than ever before.
This could be the start of a long partnership between Riot Games and ESPN.
Esports are slowly taking over traditional media and reaching new audiences. In 2018, 6 billion hours were dedicated to watching professional gaming. That number is expected to increase to 20 billion in 2021. According to a projection by Syracuse University, in 2021, esports are projected to have more viewers than every professional sports league except for the NFL.