Riot Games announced on Friday a partnership deal with MLB Advanced Media that will have them pay at least $300 million over the course of seven years to League Of Legends publisher. Fans are a bit worried, since all they see are numbers and that Disney might be involved. Here’s exactly what you need to know about the deal and why this shouldn’t get your panties in a bunch.
- The LCS Might Finally Start Making Money – BAMTech is a technology company started by MLB Advanced Media, but was spun off into into its company earlier this year. Disney has about a third of a stake in the company. The deal, at its bare minimum, gives Riot on average $50 million a year until 2023. Riot also makes part of the sales off of merchandise and other revenue sources, meaning that the LCS might actually be profitable. Here’s something a lot of fans don’t know – Riot doesn’t really make money off of professional eSports. Ticket sales and merchandise only cover a bare minimum of the actual costs of running a studio, a whole production team and events all over the world. They invest millions to advertise their product, which was the main purpose of the LCS. With this deal, Riot has a chance to make a little off of its investment. Not like they need the money too much, since Riot made $1.6 billion in 2015 alone.
- More Streaming Options – If you use HBO Go, you are already using BAMTech’s streaming technology. They created the portal we all use on mobile to watch Westworld along with the technology needed to stream live sports coverage. Streaming has been held to Twitch and YouTube for a long time now – nobody else can match the shear strength of those two streaming platforms. With Disney’s money thrown on the rink, it wouldn’t be too hard to create a platform solely for streaming League. Live stats with in-game knowledge, like seeing what killed a player or how much damage they do, can be transmitted to the viewer in real time.
- Riot Isn’t Adding A Paywall – Many fans were worried when the news first broke that the LCS and other League eSports ventures would be going to a subscription model. The experience has always been free and fans were worried that Disney might try to impose a paywall to live streaming, or at the very least videos-on-demand. Riot Magus, eSports director at Riot Games, assured fans in a reddit post that: “the current experience we have today is and will continue to be free.”
- LCS Might Be Streamed From Your Client – The BAMTech guys are working on making something the fans actually want. In an interview with Travis Gafford at Yahoo Esports , Bob Bowman, president of MLB Advanced Media, said that they want to build new technology that might be a few years away. Eventually, they want viewers to have a better experience, which means (maybe) being able to stream LCS games directly on the client. Bowman also mentioned subscription services for fans that want more, though what those could be hasn’t been disclosed.
- It’s Really Not That Big Of A Deal – Riot is worth billions of dollars and is owned by one of the largest cellphone companies in China, Tencent. This amount of money seems big on paper, but in the scheme of things, it isn’t going to make or break Riot. They are still a huge company that makes nearly all their money off cosmetics, like skins, icons and wards. This is a step in the right direction that will allow Riot to grow eSports in a way that can help LCS teams, players and fans. Don’t let the flashy lights and reddit rants confuse you, this is still a good thing.