Hulu and ESL Reach A Deal to Create 4 Esports Shows

It’s no secret that esports has become a worldwide sensation in a short period of time.  Ratings show that hundreds of thousands of fans will gather in front of their smartphone screens or computers to watch their favorite teams play in some of the most competitive games.  With it becoming such a hot-commodity it’s a small wonder why Hulu would want to get in while the getting is good.

Enter ESL.

Hulu and ESL have announced a partnership to stream 4 brand-new esports shows centered around esports, not just the tournaments.  Here are the shows:

  • Player V. Player. A gamified debate show with casters and esports influencers facing off over the hottest topics in esports. Panelists accrue points while debating both newsy and big picture topics for ultimate bragging rights, with a final challenge over a classic video game. The result is an urgent, passionate conversation amongst signature esports personalities, connecting communities while also pitting them against one another.
  • Bootcamp. A weekly docu-series following The Immortals, a top CS:GO team, as they rebuild their roster leading up to IEM Oakland, one of the premiere esports events in North America that takes place on November 18 – 19 at Oracle Arena. With the tournament just weeks away, and currently three players short of a full team, The Immortals must find new talent and quickly build a cohesive team. Bootcamp will follow The Immortals through the extensive process of player evaluation, testing, and trials until they finally find the perfect players and then race to get ready for IEM Oakland. The series will also give unprecedented access to the inner workings of a professional esports team, with scrimmages and practice sessions at the team house as they formulate a new strategy and build team chemistry.
  • Defining Moments. Dive deep into the most impactful moments in esports history with passionate casters and analysts explaining what made these moments so monumental. Defining Moments will cover many of the top games and fan the flames of ongoing debates about these plays. Each episode is centered on a specific theme for the week, whether trick-shots and insane reflex skills, controversial moves and their impact on gaming history, or long-lasting rivalries and how they came to be. The series will feature in-depth interviews with game designers, teammates, fans, rivals, even sports scientists assessing reaction speed – anyone who can add to the story of defining moments in esports.
  • ESL Replay. A fast-paced, condensed, documentary-style recap of the most memorable moments from four of the biggest multi-day esports tournaments in the world, including in-depth analyses and behind-the-scenes footage not part of the tournament live stream. A never-before-seen view of the tournament that will entertain those who watched the full tournament and those who missed the action and want to see what they missed. Each episode of Replay will be edited and aired within a week of the live event.

ESL will produce the shows, while Hulu will host them on their streaming service.  While it all sounds well and good, you can’t help but scratch your head at these show ideas.  Rather than host tournaments on their streaming service, Hulu is merely hosting an ESPN-like lineup.  Player vs Player sounds like Around the Horn, Bootcamp is like an E60, Defining Moments are basically ESPN Classics, and ESL Replay is like the content they produce on Sportscenter.

It’s an interesting adaptation to what ESPN has already started with non-virtual sports and it may even become a great lineup, but even ESPN shows games.  It seems odd that Hulu, without any history of showing esports would suddenly become a hub for esports original programming.  We’ll have to see how it goes later this fall and if the ratings will support the deal.