Riot, MLBAM reach $300M agreement to stream and monetize LoL matches

by Josh Bury Dec 16
Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports / Riot Games

Major League Baseball Advanced Media's (MLBAM) BAMTech has inked a deal for the exclusive rights to stream and monetize League of Legends matches, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The deal would have BAMTech pay a minimum $300 million to Riot Games for the rights to the broadcast League of Legends competitions through 2023.

BAMTech will handle distribution of LoL streaming content on Twitch, and plans to release a mobile app that will stream League of Legends matches. Riot may charge app users for premium content in the future, but the current plan is not to gate the streamed matches behind a subscription fee.

BAMTech will handle sponsorship and advertising deals intended to generate revenue, with earnings past $300 million shared in an undisclosed split between Riot and BAMTech.

An interview by Yahoo Esports' Travis Gafford confirmed that there would be no changes coming to the existing viewing experience for 2017, with a guaranteed $50 million return annually on average.

"We first and foremost believe in making sure that the content is in places where the fans want to watch it, so that will continue to be the case," Riot Games' co-head of esports and head of merchandising Jarred Kennedy told Yahoo. "We believe in making content freely available, and it will continue to be freely available into the future. We have no plans to change that."

Kennedy further confirmed to Yahoo that the deal would not affect broadcasts for the 2017 season. While teams and players are not expected to be cut in to the deal directly, the revenue generated could affect future revenue sharing with organizations, Kennedy noted.

The announcement confirms an earlier video report by Richard Lewis that MLBAM and Riot Games were in negotiations regarding an all-in-one video application, and an LA Times report that the streaming rights were similarly being discussed.

"Our goal has always been to build 'League of Legends' into a major global sport," Jarred Kennedy, director of e-sports at Riot, told the Wall Street Journal. "We want our sport to be funded by itself and we think this deal is going to help us get there."

BAMTech has inked similar deals, where they pay for the rights to stream content, with the National Hockey Association and the Professional Golfers' Association.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.