ESL and Former Fox Sports Executive Producer David Hill Partner for Esports Service

In the first major partnership of the year, ESL has announced that they have signed a partnership with David Hill to launch a self-described “premium production” service.

David Hill is best known for his extensive work with 21st Century Fox, where he was senior executive producer for over twenty years. Hill formed FOX Sports in 1993 and served as its president until 1994, and is now a chairman of National Geographic Channels and is serving as an executive producer for The X Factor and American Idol. During his time with DirecTV Hill was also involved with the Championship Gaming Series, or CGS, which survived only two seasons before being canceled.

Hill described eSports as, “one of the most exciting areas of sports and entertainment” and says that he is looking forward to the partnership. His interests, in particular, lie in audio and graphics, and claims that he has, “always looked to the gaming industry for inspiration” for traditional sports programming.

Despite Hill’s track record in television, ESL has given no word on whether or not they plan to take their eSports events to live television in the same manner that ELEAGUE airs on TBS. According to their press release, however, it’s implied that they only wish to improve the quality of their production and to grow eSports into a permanent resident of mainstream media. The ultimate goal for the partnership is presumably to bring television-style production values to competitive gaming events, such as the Halo Championship Series. ESL plans to capitalize on Hill’s experience in his industry to train their teams and talents in order to replicate the same kind of quality seen in traditional sports.

“David is a legend in entertainment and sports production and having an industry veteran of his stature join forces with ESL speaks to the explosive growth of esports into mainstream media,” said ESL Executive Chairman, Steven Roberts, in a statement, “David’s expertise will bring our production capabilities and broadcast talent to the next level and further our position as the premier partner for publishers and sponsors.”

Rumors of paywalls began to permeate the eSports community thanks to a story run by Variety, which claimed that ESL and Hill were planning to launch a pay-per-view model for their premier-level events, which would likely include events such as ESL One and the Dota 2 Majors. This would make these tournaments, which were previously free to view online, only viewable to those who pay a one-time fee per event. However, ESL’s Vice President of Pro Gaming, Ulrich Shculze, was quick to reject the allegations, insisting that “there are no plans or considerations for paywalls at major events.” To further clarify on what Hill meant in the story, Schulze explained that pay-per-view would be an option for “some types of content (like Znipe), but not for main broadcasts.” The claim has since been met with skepticism, as several members of the community question whether or not parent company MTG shares their views on establishing paywalls.

The partnership continues to advance ESL through their plans to professionalize the competitive gaming industry, which is still incredibly amateurish in comparison to its traditional sports counterpart. In 2016 ESL launched the World Esports Association, or WESA, which has since introduced player councils and third-party arbitration courts in an attempt to establish an industry standard.

A certified weeb that passionately live-Tweets his reactions from esports events, Sian is one of those people that hasn’t seen the sun in weeks. You can find him on Twitter @FriendlySenpai