Future of e-Sports: Blizzard Signs Deal with GOM TV

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 OSL will most likely be no more after the current season.

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.

GOM TV’s Korean Starcraft Casters from Classic Season 3

English Commentators: Nick “Tasteless” Plott and Daniel “Super Daniel Man” Lee

[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.

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+ Add Comment7 Comments

  1. Cindy
    May 31, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Won’t Blizzard officially having their name attached to these tournaments ensure better broadcasting quality as well? I am not an expert on this but I have watched some of these tournaments and seen ones where the English commentators seem very confused about what is happening. I think the contract between Blizzard and GOM will draw more attention to the tournaments and the coverage will improve. In the end both parties will benefit.

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  2. Rick James
    May 30, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Blizzard: Hey KESPA- what did the hand say to the face?

    Kespa: LOL LOL WTFBBQ Free stuff?

    Blizzard: SLAP!

  3. jin
    May 29, 2010 at 5:23 am

    what in the world are you complaining about? what kespa is doing is tantamount to taking a stephen king book, hiring actors and sound fx people and stage a televised reading… without paying stephen king!

    yes, blizzactivision is seeking money. but it is money they are RIGHTLY OWED and is due to them.

    and KESPA was a monopoly too… especially when you consider how they pulled the rug out from under blizzard’s events by preventing their gamers from competing.

    so now you will have a “monopoly” controlled by activision – not kespa. if anything, if there has to be a monopoly, this is the RIGHT monopoly to have.

    kespa was playing with a stolen ball and when the owner showed up, instead of apologizing and thanking them for the pretty ball, they spat in the owner’s face.

    payback’s a bitch.


    • May 29, 2010 at 7:20 am

      That analogy is a little off but yes, I agree with most of what else you have said. Though I think you are just hearing Blizz’s side of the story. I recommend you read a little of what KeSPA had to say on the matter to get a taste of the other side of things. It’s from about a month ago.

      A better analogy would be to suggest that it would be illegal for me to hold a Scrabble tournament without approval from Hasbro, which hopefully you would see as ridiculous, but not much different.

      The issue with copyright is that in e-sports there is no precedent regarding where to draw the lines. If I purchase a game from the developer what are my rights? Can I record myself playing it or is that illegal? Can I arrange to play it against my friends? Blizzard seems to think not without their consent.

      A single oganization, KeSPA, was far too powerful and abused that powerful against companies such as GOM in shady ways. I have no love for KeSPA.

      The problem is that the “solution” now simply makes GOM even more powerful than KeSPA was and there are no guarantees they will act any better. My bet is they don’t allow anyone to come close to challenging their dominance.

      This is bad for the community as a whole. I would have rather seen KeSPA broken up or replaced by several smaller organizations than power simply given to someone else. It’s too bad no deal could be reached.

      Anyways, I appreciate your feedback and opinion on the matter.

      • jin
        May 29, 2010 at 6:30 pm

        hey dave,

        fine. let’s talk about a scrabble tournament. blizzard is NOT saying after you purchase the game, you can’t play as you wish. BUT, kespa is holding the equivalent of a NATIONALLY TELEVISED SCRABBLE TOURNAMENT.

        the issue is televising and the subsequent revenue. not only is the primary content of the shows blizzard’s ip but it generates considerable cash.

        guaranteed that if there were televised scrabble tournaments that started generating huge cash flow, hasbro would be right at the doorstep with an army of lawyers and they would be well within their rights.

        the issue is the GENERATION OF REVENUE and as such, the stephen king analogy is apt as well. it’s unlikely blizzard will go after clubs or individuals. but kespa is generating huge amounts of cash based on someone else’s ip.

        kespa literally has NO position to negotiate from. blizzard is siezing the negotiations “unilaterally” but that’s entirely – entirely – right and proper.

        believe me when i say that i have no love at all for corporations. but this is a fight BETWEEN corporations and not between a goliath and david fans.

        blizzactivision has a royal flush. kespa literally has nothing. kespa lost and rightly so. it’s difficult for me to muster ANY sympathy.

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