ESL's new Facebook deal is best of both worlds
A change to ESL’s controversial Facebook streaming deal has increased the number of hours that will appear on the social media platform, but removed the exclusivity that had caused so much grief in both the CSGO and Dota 2 communities. Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, it looks as if the new deal is going to provide the best of both worlds, with all content now available on traditional platforms, as well as a great esports presence on Facebook itself.
Reported in the Daily Dot and elsewhere, the new deal is "a non-exclusive agreement which allows ESL to stream its competitions on other platforms outside of Facebook, like Twitch and YouTube. This includes premier tournament series and circuits such as Intel Extreme Masters (IEM), ESL One, and the ESL Pro League".
It comes on the back of a number of months of conjecture about the benefits of the old contract, with Ulrich Shulze admitting last year in an interview with HLTV that “the way it (Facebook) has performed so far certainly hasn’t been up to the expectations we had".
The reason this deal is such a huge improvement is twofold, with the first being the aforementioned return to Twitch of all IEM and ESL content. That means no more having to use Facebook of HLTV’s embedded player, and the option to watch on more platforms than was the case last year too, with Facebook not being supported on some consoles, for example.
Not only does it stop esports users having to use sub-par products, but it also maintains an esports presence on the site itself, and in some ways an increased standard of play too, with the IEM labelled events some of the best in the calendar. This means the ‘new’ users ESL had hoped to attract can still be drawn in, and hopefully that Facebook are still motivated to improve the quality of their product to at least provide an alternative to Twitch and so on.
The cost of the deal has not been reported, but even with the extra content it is unlikely Facebook will be paying as much as they were with the removal of their exclusive rights to esports content. Overall, though, it is a great moment for existing esports fans, and repurposes the deal in a way that allows it to still increase the impact of esports on the mainstream, without the mainstream negatively impacting the way esports exists today.