Last month, reports emerged that had Riot Games and MLB Advanced Media finalizing a two-year, $200 million deal for League of Legends streaming rights. Yahoo eSports today reported the two sides have reached an agreement for the game's eSports monetization and commercialization rights, and it's for a lot more money and term than the initial reports suggested.
Riot Games and MLB Advanced Media streaming technology subsidiary BAMTech have agreed to a deal that guarantees Riot $50 million a year and runs through the 2023 League of Legends season (although there are opportunities to restructure for both sides in certain instances). It's a global deal, but Riot will roll out any changes gradually on a region-by-region basis.
BAMTech president of business and media Bob Bowman explained why his outfit was willing to commit that much to the game.
"The amount of time that [Riot Games] has over the top for live events far eclipses any other sport in the world - not just eSport, any other sport in the world," Bowman said. "So the monetization for that effort and those kind of events is going to be really exciting. But we think the world is ready for eSports. The sponsors, the advertisers are ready for it. They're dying for it. It's a great audience and they spend a great deal of time with this content."
The group has said that League of Legends fans will still be able to watch games through YouTube, Twitch, or other platforms as they do now at least through 2017. Beyond that, the companies are at least intending to make sure League of Legends tournament streams will still be freely available, although they haven't ruled out the possibility of also offering a premium service of some sort. BAMTech is also working on an app, but said the exact form of it would need to be determined with feedback from players, fans, and stakeholders.
Riot co-head of eSports and head of merchandising Jarred Kennedy said the deal will ultimately benefit everyone in the League of Legends ecosystem, not just Riot.
"There's more revenue coming into the scene," Kennedy said. "And that revenue will find its way to players in the form of salaries and to teams in the form of a share of that revenue directly once we get into that next phase of our growth, which is what we talked about last time we were here, that 2018 and beyond partnership."