eSports is killing it online, but can it find a home on TV?

The advantages of less choice

eSports

Thanks to a partnership between Sky, ITV and Ginx TV, the UK now has its first ever eSports channel showing 24 hours of content every day.

Ginx eSports TV is not quite the first eSports channel to grace British television ever, but it's the first to do so without going offline for certain hours of the day.

Ginx eSports TV will show original programming as well as coverage from major events including Valve's The International Dota 2 tournament, but can it offer anything for eSports fans that they can't already get online?

Online rules the eSports roost

It's hard to overemphasize just how massive eSports is online. Twitch.tv is a huge source of eSports livestreams, but Major League Gaming and now YouTube, with the launch of YouTube Live, are also major eSports destinations in their own right.

Every year thousands of hours of eSports content makes its way online, and users have total control over which matches to watch, which leagues to follow, and which commentary to listen to.

With how well the community is already being served online you might be forgiven for wondering why anyone would choose to watch eSports on old fashioned broadcast TV.

The answer is approachability.

The benefit of a lack of choice

What online broadcasts offer is choice, and while choice is an amazing thing for people who know what they want to watch, it can make eSports a very intimidating proposition for anyone not already immersed in the world.

The opportunity Ginx TV has is to make those difficult choices for people who don't know their FoxeRs from their BoxeRs, to select the most important matches going on at any one point in time and put them in front of people with only a passing interest.

Acting in this way, Ginx TV can act as a gateway drug, introducing people to a world that can seem large and intimidating to an outsider.

But can this approach work over the long term? After all, if Ginx performs its role as a gateway drug successfully then its viewers will soon migrate online where they have much more choice to watch eSports however they choose.

The worst part is that the better Ginx does its job, the faster this process will be.

So for now the jury's out on whether Ginx TV can find its own place alongside the wealth of online eSports content.

It may be able to distinguish itself through the sheer quality of its programming and commentary, but it might struggle to compete with the sheer choice offered online.

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