ESPN is about to expand its fledgling esports strategy in a very noticeable way. The broadcaster has launched an EXP esports series that will bring competitive gaming to its events. They’ll typically include a variety of games with collegiate, pro and pro-am formats. You’ll have to watch online if you want to tune in live, but there will be “tape-delayed” highlights show on ESPN and other ABC TV channels after the fact.
You’ll see EXP start quickly. The first event will be a pro-am Apex Legends exhibition during the week of the ESPYs (around July 11th), while an invitational Apex tourney will take place at the X Games Minneapolis between August 1st and August 4th. Gamers will have a chance to win a playing berth at the ESPYs event by making donations through eBay between June 12th and June 22nd.
ESPN certainly isn’t new to hosting esports tourneys at its events, but the series represents an added level of commitment. It wants to make digital competition a staple at its sports galas, not just special exhibitions. Although this won’t suddenly put esports on par with conventional sports in ESPN’s world, it’s now treated as less of a novelty.