PAX Prime 2012: The Present and Future of eSports Broadcasting

Electronic sports or e-sports is a type of competition that is growing at an enormous rate, and the live broadcasting of e-sports events is a huge part of that growth. Some of the brightest minds and best commentators gathered at PAX Prime 2012 to talk about how the business and broadcast sides work together to keep making e-sports bigger.

Alex Garfield offered some pragmatic, revenue focused advice for e-sports novices and professionals alike. As the CEO of professional team Evil Geniuses, Garfield is one of the leading voices in shaping and evolving the revenue model for the e-sports industry. He stressed the importance of accurate, relatable broadcast analytics being integrated into streams for monetization, to enable both the content provider to price their content and advertisers to place media buys accurately. He used the example of classifying 60 seconds of a live stream per user as a view, which could then be priced based on the industry standard CPM (cost per thousand views) model for media buys.

Josh Kaneakalau is a commentator for fighting games who stressed the importance of capturing the audience reaction for fighting game streaming. He stressed to the panel attendees that the human experience is important in broadcasting, especially for the relatively primal experience of fighting games. Paired with constant engagement of the audience by using a distinct voice, Kaneakalau believes that aspiring e-sports casters can be very compelling.

Stuart Saw brought insight from Own3d.tv with clear advice for casters to provide an info rich experience and clear narrative. He made a fascinating point that personal stories change in importance as the audience shifts in language, which can happen over time and vary by game (with the most notable example being the huge Korean fan base for StarCraft).

Last but certainly not least, Marcus Graham (better known as DJ Wheat) is one of the founding fathers of e-sports broadcasting. Starting over a decade ago, Graham has cast games as diverse as Quake to StarCraft and is truly one of the faces of e-sports. He stressed the importance of interaction from simultaneous chats alongside the streams to social media and forums to really promote the work. For the more technical casters, he recommended xSplit as a powerful but affordable streaming tool with a lot of professional broadcasting capabilities. Graham encouraged users to be vocal about their product feedback, as they have the best insight about what the tools need to get better which will in turn help casters provide a more compelling experience.

I attended the panel as a fan of DJ Wheat’s commentary on StarCraft 2 games (especially with Sean “Day[9]” Plott), but left with both a greater appreciation and understanding of the world of e-sports broadcasting.

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