By John Gaudiosi | Reuters – 4 hrs ago RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters):
CBS Interactive, the digital wing of CBS Corp, has locked up exclusive advertising deals with six major professional leagues, capitalizing on a sport that is rapidly growing in popularity while managing to run under the mainstream radar. Executives for CBS Interactive told Reuters on Wednesday that they had signed agreements to stream pro competitions with the North American Star League, Dreamhack, Electronic Sports League, Global StarCraft II League, EVO Championship Series, and Major League Gaming. CBSi also has a non-exclusive deal with a seventh, IGN Pro League. "We've locked up 96 percent of all the advertising inventory around eSports, and now we have an opportunity to take that to market and turn this pond into an ocean," said Simon Whitcombe, general manager of CBSi Games.
Professional gaming, also called eSports, has become a huge draw for men 18- to 34-years-old across the globe. Fans tune in to live Web streams of tournaments to watch pros play games such as Blizzard Entertainment's "StarCraft II", Riot Games' "League of Legends" and Activision's "Call of Duty: Black Ops" for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. Whitcombe said a pro gaming event like June's Major League Gaming (MLG) Spring Championship in Anaheim, can attract between 1.5 and 2 million unique viewers over a weekend - on par with some TV shows. CBSi Games also has partnered with Own3D, one of the world's largest live streaming companies to expand its reach.
Own3D already attracts over 10 million people a month to watch live streaming game competitions and events. The deal with Own3D comes on the heels of a separate CBSi partnership with TwitchTV, which attracts another 17 million gamers per month through its streaming game content. Whitcombe said through these deals, and with its own original content, CBSi now offers more than 3 billion minutes of live gaming and eSports content monthly.