Sky to start covering eSports in the UK

The highlights, at least

Competitive gaming is getting a boost as Sky announces it will broadcast its first eSports event on Sky 2 tonight.

eSports is already big news and it's getting bigger: Sky has announced it's showing highlights of the prestigious Intel Extreme Masters tournament on the Sky 2 channel, starting 10pm tonight (Monday 7 March).

Those of you who think there's no future in people watching other people play games might want to take note of the prize fund pot on offer: a cool US$500,000 (that works out as around £355,000 or AU$675,000 at the current exchange rates).

The tournament, which involves games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends, is going to last five days. Around 100,000 fans will be in attendance with the global television audience expected to stretch into the millions.

All in the game

UK viewers have previously seen some eSports coverage on the now online-only BBC Three, but it's been slim pickings. In the US, ESPN has just launched its own eSports vertical.

It's hardly a huge commitment by Sky but it is the first time the broadcaster has covered a major eSports event: it had previously shown a short featurette introducing the video gaming craze.

Figures published last year showed that some 205 million people are watching or playing eSports every year. That growth is one of the reasons Amazon paid close to $1 billion to acquire streaming site Twitch in 2014.