Esports tournament organizer ESL will continue its partnership with Facebook through 2019, the company announced Tuesday. The deal, however, will not have an exclusivity clause, as it did thus far. Facebook will thus be able to stream Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One and the CS:GO ESL Pro League tournament brands.
ESL initially got in bed with Facebook in January 2018, and included the ESL One and CS:GO Pro Leagues event. The IEM brand was then left out of the deal and continued to be streamed on Twitch, as per usual.
While the deal made financial sense for ESL, receiving a direct cash influx for their broadcasting rights, it left the majority of esports fans unhappy. The partnership caused controversy in the Dota 2 scene, after several streamers, including Henrik “AdmiralBulldog” Ahnberg and Brian “BSJ” Canavan, were issued copyright strikes or Twitch bans for streaming ESL One Genting unofficially, in direct competition to the Facebook streams. Said streams were further plagued by technical and user experience issues.
The end of the partnership in December 2018 reportedly left ESL and Valve unhappy, with the future of the deal uncertain.
Leo Olebe of Facebook said on the deal:
“Expanding ESL content to include all global esports competitions is a way for us to satisfy the growing appetite for watching gaming video content on Facebook. Providing ESL fans a way to watch esports on multiple platforms is something we know the community cares about, and that’s a big reason why all 2019 content will broadcast anywhere ESL chooses to stream.”
With the non-exclusivity in place, however, it is unlikely that esports fans turn to Facebook for their IEM and ESL One content. The first major event to be streamed on both Facebook and Twitch is the upcoming IEM Katowice, due to start tomorrow, Feb. 13, so number comparisons between the platforms will be immediately available.