MLB Advanced Media is a partnership between 30 Major League Baseball club owners, banding together to provide online services for the league, including the MLB website, and various club sites. BAMTech is a streaming provider and subsidiary of MLB Advanced Media.
Riot was quick to confirm that the deal will not affect how viewers consume League of Legends content in 2017 in an interview with Yahoo Esports. ‘We first and foremost believe in making sure that the content is in places where the fans want to watch it, so that will continue to be the case,” said co-head of esports and head of merchandising for Riot Games, Jarred Kennedy. “We believe in making content freely available, and it will continue to be freely available into the future. We have no plans to change that.”
“That’s not to say that we won’t innovate down the road. Maybe there is something super cool that we create that has to be behind a premium experience so that fans want to buy into it,” clarified co-head of esports Whalen Rozelle.
BAMTech president of business and media Bob Bowman stated that the initial commitment of $50 M annually is only the beginning. “I hope we’re going to do a lot more than that. That’s the minimum guarantee, and I hope we’re going to exceed that by a large margin. And I expect that we will,” he said, citing the fact that esports are a digital-first property, compared to traditional sports.
Effects of the deal are anticipated to start becoming evident from 2018, with teams and players expected to see monetary benefit from deals signed in 2018 and beyond.
Surprise over such a large investment is dulled by the fact that League of Legends surpassed 100 million monthly players back in September. This isn’t the first time investors from other sports have gotten behind esports, with NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers joining the industry after picking up and merging Team Dignitas and Team Apex, and Boston Celtics player Jonas Jerebko acquiring the Renegades.