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Record $350 Million Esports Deal Dissolved Before It Began

  • Riot Games and BAMTech signed landmark deal in December 2016
  • Deal replaced Friday by new streaming agreement with ESPN+
General Images Of Gamers

Photographer: Jean Chung/Bloomberg

When Riot Games Inc. announced a $350 million deal with BAMTech 18 months ago, it marked a hallmark moment for the growing economy of professional video gaming. The first major media rights deal in esports, it suggested a future in which major video game competitions could make money in the same ways major league sports do.

After months of delays, that deal is now dead. Riot on Friday announced a new streaming agreement with ESPN+, the digital platform launched this year by Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN. Starting in June, League of Legends matches will be available on ESPN+ on a non-exclusive basis, meaning esports fans can still watch events on YouTube, Twitch and Riot’s own website.