81.1 F
San Fernando
Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Network for E-sports

Two days a month, a group of hosts gather at a production studio in Studio City to film video segments for the Gamer World News Entertainment network. The brainchild of Gayle Dickie, a veteran of the television syndication business, the network bills itself as an independent news source for the e-sports and video game enthusiast markets. Available as video-on-demand on the network’s website, Apple and Android apps and on a variety of streaming platforms, the network launched April 26. It consists of 13 ad-supported channels with videos providing news and features on such topics as global gaming, virtual reality, mobile gaming, female gamers, game tips and tricks, gossip and reviews, exclusive interviews, health and college and university game play. The seven hosts were chosen from more than 2,000 applicants. “There is no one providing content quite the way we are,” Dickie said. Dickie and her team, which includes a production staff, film at Illuminate Hollywood in Studio City. Over two days, they can film up to 100 segments of short-form video. “This type of content is fast and snackable,” Dickie said. “They call it potato chip content – you have it really quick.” In the first week, Dickie said she was told viewers were tuning in from Peru, Brazil, Spain, Holland and Cyprus. “I am excited about taking some time to grow and where it will go in the next six months to the end of the year,” she added. Gamer World has partnered with Eyez E-sports, in San Francisco, a video ad technology platform that monetizes and distributes the content to e-sports leagues and game publishers; and Lightcast, in Charlotte, N.C., which is the media management company that puts content on apps and uploads to YouTube and Facebook. With distribution through Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku, the fledgling network is well on its way to reaching a goal that Dickie has set out for it. “We figure we will hit close to a billion eyeballs before the end of the year,” she said. Data from industry professionals bear out that Dickie may be on the right track, especially when it comes to e-sports, or competitions between teams playing video games. Newzoo, a market research firm for the video-game industry, predicts the global audience of e-sports enthusiasts and occasional viewers will reach 380 million this year. More than 50 percent of the enthusiasts will be in Asia-Pacific countries with North American viewers making up about 14 percent. The San Francisco firm has forecast global e-sports revenues at $906 million this year. About 38 percent of that total will come from North America. In the San Fernando Valley, e-sports has a presence in Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, a competition venue opened last year by Blizzard Entertainment Inc. in the former space of “The Tonight Show” at Burbank Studios. Jurre Pannekeet, senior market analyst and e-sports specialist in the Netherlands office at Newzoo, called the approach that Gamer World News is taking interesting and unique. “There isn’t a gamer or e-sports news platform that fully focuses on video coverage of news,” Pannekeet wrote in an email to the Business Journal. Competition for the attention for the gamer and e-sports viewer, however, is intense. There are many websites covering developments on games and e-sports, and even mainstream media outlets, such as ESPN, do e-sports coverage, he added. “Its offering through TV gives it a unique selling proposition, as most of the current news coverage is through read web media,” Panne,keet wrote in the email. TV experience Dickie became interested in the world of e-sports after reading a November 2014 article in New Yorker magazine titled, “Good Game: The rise of the professional cyber athlete.” The article profiled Sasha Hostyn, a gamer who plays under the name Scarlett. As Dickie did online research, she found that there wasn’t anywhere to go for news about e-sports, its competitors and the lifestyle around the tournaments. “I set out on a journey to start something really new,” Dickie said. She pitched investors she knew from her days in the entertainment industry and they bought in. She does admit, though, that she was asked more than once just what e-sports was. Having a background in TV syndication helped in getting the network up and running. Previously, she packaged series and movies for sale to television stations around the country, which gave her an understanding about audience. It’s a skill that translates well into the gaming world. While e-sports players tend to be in their late teens and early 20s, the average video gamer skews older. According to a 2017 study by the Entertainment Software Association, a trade group for the video game industry and producer of the annual E3 video game convention every June in Los Angeles, the average age of male gamers is 33 years old while the average age for women players is 37. In setting up the network, Dickie had a lot of hoops to get through. It started with the chore of going through the thousands of people who applied to be the on-air hosts. Having a background in hosting a television show was vital to those who were picked. “To be a gamer on top of it added a whole other level,” Dickie said. “We tested them pretty well. We had a few people try to talk their way into it. You have to know what you are talking about.” The network’s technical experts are Rob “Captain Rob” Steinberg and Tian Wang, who host, among other segments, Point-Counterpoint that has them humorously discuss a topic from different sides. The lifestyle reporters are Sheri Nadel and Jordy Altman, a producer of “The Talk,” airing on CBS, which won a daytime Emmy this year. Handling the e-sports and global gamer news segments are the trio of Michelle Jubilee, Brian Hanford and Andrew Anderson. Nadel and Jubilee host the Girls of the Game channel, which focuses on female players. “They were all good together. We mixed and matched them all during the casting process and they just worked,” Dickie said. But Ben McDougal, chief executive of Jet Set Studio, a Des Moines, Iowa firm that operates TournamentSeeker.com, a website promoting video-game competitions, said that one of the challenges facing Gamer World News is generating that sense of authority where people look for content. “They are going to need some serious resources and staff to stay in tune,” McDougal said. “I assume that is what they are trying to do and what they’ve achieved, and if that’s the case, that’s great.” Higher education market Dickie is always adding new content to the network. Earlier this month, Dickie uploaded another 30 to 40 stories to all the channels. She also added a new channel, College and University E-sports, or CUE, which has 14 stories on it from schools like Harvard University and Purdue University to small colleges in Ohio. “Every college and university is recognizing that e-sports is something they really need to get involved with,” Dickie said. Going forward, the network is in talks with a major brand on an original show called “Finding America’s Gamer Newsgirl.” Dickie wants to find a girl or young woman between the ages of 15 and 25 years old to be the network’s roving correspondent and help make the content more mainstream. Eventually, Dickie’s plans are to do similar shows in Canada and even China, where she has talked with a few companies. Her plans for Gamer World News is eventually to shoot daily and do a live show on Friday nights on what is going on globally with e-sports. Dickie said her exit strategy is to be open to whatever makes sense for her and her investors. Right now, she is funded by private equity managers who believe in her vision of what the network can become for e-sports and the gamer world. There remains the possibility of taking the company public and Dickie said she did not rule out an initial public offering. Another option is partnering with a telecom provider, such as AT&T Inc. or Verizon Wireless, so that the news network is right there on the phone where everybody wants it. “I’d prefer to keep it private if I can and build it to the point where I think it could be,” she added.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Featured Articles

Related Articles