Although the possibility of a new broadcast content called e-sports is clear, there are still issues that are difficult to assert before praising it.
The first issue that can be discussed is the question, ‘Is e-sports a sport?’ There are two possible answers to this question. One is ‘yes’ and the other is ‘no’. The criterion that separates these two answers, which may seem like a question-and-answer answer, is what the meaning of the word ‘sports’ is.
The concept we call sport today is actually a mixture of two concepts: ‘athletic events’ and ‘events watched by spectators’. Sports as an athletic event that has been around since ancient Greece and Rome are the origins, but in reality, most professional sports are much easier to access to the public through broadcasting, Internet streaming, and newspaper articles. Baseball and soccer’s intuition (visiting the stadium) is bound to cost more than TV 스포츠중계. The sports we talk about publicly today rather than sports as ‘athletic’ are probably closer to the latter as ‘show entertainment’.
Among the two meanings of sports, e-sports is closer to entertainment created through broadcasting media, so there is a debate about identity as a sport in the e-sports world. For example, whether or not to adopt an official event in amateur sports such as the Olympics. In the case of e-sports, which have been adopted as a demonstration sport in the Asian Games and have not yet been adopted in the Olympics, there is a part where it is not easy to enter the realm of ‘amateur athletics’ in that the copyright of the game being an event belongs to a specific company.
The second issue is who is the operator and broadcaster of e-sports events and how the profits should be distributed. In Korea as well, the relationship between OGN, which opened the beginning of e-sports, Blizzard of <StarCraft>, and Riot Games of <League of Legends> has been cited as an example.
The e-sports shoes of <StarCraft 1> were led by OGN, a broadcasting company, and Blizzard, the production company, cooperated. There have been cases such as Blizzard, which holds the game copyright, handing over the broadcasting rights to a broadcasting company other than OGN. In the case of League of Legends, OGN has produced Korean e-sports directly, but Riot Games is operating by forming a broadcasting team and running and broadcasting the Korean league on its own.
If a game company directly operates an e-sports league, and even produces and broadcasts broadcasting, it is bound to leave the question of whether e-sports content can become a new item to replace the low performance of legacy sports. In other words, in the battle of whether e-sports will become a new item for broadcasting or a new convergence area for game companies, the latter is rapidly progressing.
We don’t know yet who will own the new realm.
KBS organized League of Legends, the most popular e-sports event, which appeared as a demonstration event at the 2018 Jakarta/Palembang Asian Games, on KBS2, and added commentators Ko In-gyu and Lee Hyun-woo from former gamers, detailed help info graphics for novice viewers. He put a lot of effort into putting it together. It is surprising considering the time when pro gamer Lim Yo-hwan appeared in <Morning Court> (KBS1) in 2003 and caused controversy by driving him to become a game addict. That would mean that legacy media are paying attention to the new broadcast content called e-sports.
In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, e-sports have come into the spotlight as a new broadcast content in the new normal era. There are still questions about whether e-sports is suitable for the existing broadcasting system. It will certainly be a bigger market, but the main character of the market may not be broadcasting, but game companies or internet channels. As the e-sports market grows, it is time to reflect on the meaning of the difficult situation for OGN, the world’s first broadcaster specializing in e-sports leagues.