Blizzard recently announced a new deal granting exclusive Korean broadcast rights to GOM TV. The previous relationship between these companies came about during the third Averatec Intel Classic Tournament, hosted by GOM TV, when Blizzard stepped in with their cheque book to increase the prize pool substantially. But, as we’re come to expect from big game companies, what they say and what they do are often at odds.
The deal comes on the back of a three year dispute over Blizzard’s intellectual property rights with KeSPA (Korean e-Sports Players Association), and will take effect this August, at the end of the current season.
From the beginning of the negotiations up to now, the basic framework we have thought of is one where e-Sports can continue to grow, while we can protect our intellectual property rights.
… We signed a contract with GomTV which we announced today, which gives them the exclusive rights to hold and broadcast Blizzard game tournaments in Korea.
Mike Morhaime of Blizzard – Letter to Korean e-Sports Fans
Here is a good example of the sort of dishonesty these corporations dish out on a regular basis, and in the same document no less. What sounds good to everyone is that Blizzard is on board for growing the e-sports community so it’s what tends to be said to the press. Great! So how do we do this you ask? Well, let’s set up an exclusive partnership monopoly over broadcasting rights! Yeah… what? That would seem to achieve the opposite.
To help understand this corporate phenomenon, let’s put this in perspective with current events. It’s little different to when British Petroleum (BP) does press event after press event about how important the environment is to them, meanwhile they cut every corner possible to save money and increase their bottom line, resulting in what is perhaps the largest environmental catastrophe to date.
Essentially, thanks to organizations like KeSPA whom Blizzard despises, the e-Sports community in Korea has exploded in a very short period of time, going from non-existent to the largest on the planet. Millions more copies of Blizzard games were sold because of the companies broadcasting games like Starcraft, causing a huge surge in popularity that would have never existed otherwise. It was free advertising for Blizzard games in the form of night long commercials every night of the week. It was partly KeSPA who organized it so broadcasts between competing organizations such as Ongamenet (OSL) and MBCgame (MSL) were held on different days to allow fans to get it all, all the time.
[We are] happy that the fans will be able to enjoy the Blizzard game tournaments in the near future. In the upcoming Starcraft II tournament, hosted by Gom-TV, we will open the doors to the current Starcraft Pro-gamers in Korea so that they can participate in the tournament. We are also looking to cooperate with other e-Sports related broadcasting companies.
Bae In-Shik, on behalf of GOM TV
The fans were already enjoying the Blizzard game tournaments in the past and present. It was only Blizzard that put the future in jeopardy to begin with.
Let me translate that last bit for you. “Cooperate with other companies” is really code for “require them to pay us to run their businesses.” I can guarantee two things, the first being there will be no free rights handed out by GOM.
So what is Blizzard’s real motivation here? Surprise, it’s money! Blizzard saw the huge market in Korea beyond video game sales and they want their piece of the pie. So I guaranteed a second item: my second guarantee is that in the contract Blizzard and GOM signed there is money flowing to Blizzard. It’s laughable to think that Blizzard chose GOM because they were the nicest guys, no, GOM agreed to give them the largest share of revenue.
Now don’t misunderstand my feelings towards GOM. Out of the major broadcasters in Korea I have enjoyed their content the most bar none. My disdain is for Blizzard’s disingenuity. Like any corporation they are driven entirely by the profit motive yet continuously spin the press releases in ways that don’t make any sense, all for the purpose of public relations and perception.
Overall, I think we will see some solid content coming out of GOM regarding Starcraft 2 in the near future. It’s just too bad that Blizzard decided to choose sides and stifle competition with legalities and lawsuits rather than let the viewers decide which content to support. If they were really interested in growing e-Sports they would want as much coverage and broadcasting as possible.