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Riot Games and MLB Finalize Esports Partnership

12/19/16

Last month we reported on rumors that Riot Games, the studio behind the massive MOBA hit League of Legends, was close to a $200 million agreement with BAMTech, a subsidiary of MLB Advanced Media. That's the MLB. The baseball one.

On December 16, 2016 those rumors proved to be (mostly) true, with a few caveats. The two parties announced they had reached an agreement via an exclusive interview with Yahoo Esports (yes, that site really exists.) There are two main takeaways from the announcement. First, the dollar amount. The MLB is guaranteeing Riot Games $50 million a year from 2018-2023 regardless of how well future eSports events perform. Both sides expect a much larger annual sum if League of Legends continues on its current trajector.

The other important piece of information from the announcement is a clarification on broadcasting rights. Riot Games confirmed that the deal would not change how fans can watch League of Legends events. That means tournaments will continue to be streamed on Twitch.tv, YouTube, and anywhere else people currently view them:

“We first and foremost believe in making sure that the content is in places where the fans want to watch it, so that will continue to be the case… We believe in making content freely available, and it will continue to be freely available into the future. We have no plans to change that.”

There were a few other eyebrow raisers in the interview such as this nugget on a mobile app for viewing League of Legends matches:

“We wouldn’t be here if there [wasn’t] an app involved… we’re going to build a world-class app for a world-class game” Bowman said. It will be launched region by region, and development will be shaped by the input of fans, teams, and executives.

Apps are serious business and executives love serious business. I guess we can all look forward to a MLB LoL app in the near future!

If you want to learn more about how this partnership will effect the pro scene, do read the full interview. Other topics discussed include revenue share with pro team and players in the future, when the deal goes into effect, and much more.

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