Esports experts took centre stage to discuss the technology behind their booming industry at an RTS Thames Valley colloquium over three days in mid-July.
In 2019, e-sports audiences reached 443 million worldwide, revealed Guillaume Neveux, business development manager, EMEA, at EVS Broadcast Equipment. They are predicted to rise to 495 million this year and 646 million in 2023. Revenues are expected to pass $1.1bn this year.
“More than 100 million people watched the [battle arena game] League of Legends World Championship, cementing its place as the most popular e-sport,” said Neveux.
The first of the three one-hour sessions saw Steven “Claw” Jalicy, global head of streaming for ESL Gaming, introduce some of the games played, including League of Legends and StarCraft. He defined e-sports as “competitive multiplayer video gaming”, which differ from traditional sports by using specific video-gaming products, not just types of games.
Looking to the workflow, Jalicy discussed the similarities between broadcast sport and esports, and demonstrated two main differences: in-game and distribution. “In-game is the virtual playing field where the players are competing,” he said. “In-gaming tells the story of the match. It replaces the cameras and is the image the audience sees, but it also contains many of the traditional shots seen on television, such as audience and reaction shots.”
Streaming and live content distribution are very different to traditional sports, as there is no charging service – the audience expects the content to be free online, explained Jalicy.
Anna Lockwood, head of global sales at Telstra Broadcast, presented the Zoom session on the first day.
On day two, Paul Martin, VP marketing and broadcast business development at Vecima Networks, discussed the technical aspects of streaming e-sports to audiences using content delivery networks (CDNs): “The investment being made by telco operators around the world in their networks is what is enabling more and more viewers to take on the services.”
He explained how CDNs improve the delivery of streamed media in terms of push vs pull systems. Traditional broadcasting uses a one-size-fits-all push system, whereas e-sports streaming uses a more efficient, tailored pull solution.
On the final day, Neveux discussed e-sports production from the perspective of a broadcast solutions provider: “E-sports productions are very much like traditional broadcasts. They need replays, slo-mos, match recaps, studios, commentators, and national and international takers.” However, 80% of the image sources provided are computer-generated.
The three esports sessions can be watched here.