ESL to partner with former Fox Sports exec for major tournaments

by Daniel Rosen Feb 1 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of Helena Kristiansson / ESL

ESL has signed a partnership agreement with former Fox TV and Fox Sports executive David Hill to help with "special projects" through his production studio Hilly, according to Variety's Todd Spangler.

Hill will work with ESL to train production teams on television practices and securing top announcer talent, with Hill telling Variety that he wants to find "gaming's answer to Joe Buck and Terry Bradshaw." According to Variety, ESL wants Hill to help bring TV production values to esports, and Hill will primarily be working with the organization on their major events, though none were specifically singled out in the report.

Additionally, Variety says that ESL is working on a pay-per-view system for their bigger events but no specific details on that were mentioned. However, an ESL spokesperson told theScore esports that there are currently no plans to institute PPV, but they are considering extra content which could involve some of pay-per-view elements.

“At ESL we’re always looking for ways to improve the on-site and on-air production of our events. At the moment we are investigating all avenues to further improve our products, including investing in studio development, working with top talent and bringing on board key industry experts from related industries. With David Hill on board, we’re aiming at doing just that: making the ESL experience better,” ESL said in a statement.

“That being said, there are no plans to make any of our tournaments or events ‘pay-per-view’ products. We are investigating additional content concepts around our events, which could include PPV components, but the core viewing experience for ESL events will remain unchanged. Broadcasts from ESL’s core products and events will remain available on various online platforms as well as a continually increasing portfolio of TV stations around the world.”

“Being absolutely fair, it’s not the acme of television production,” Hill said to Variety on the current standard of ESL's production value. “We’re going to make gaming [TV] network-ready, because we firmly believe the next big thing in entertainment is video gaming.”

Hill is best known for his time as a senior executive vice president of 20th Century Fox and as the first president of Fox Sports from 1993-1994. Hill recently produced the last season of American Idol, the 88th Academy Awards and won an Emmy for producing the 2011 World Series.

It is unclear if Hill is working with ESL to bring their tournaments to television, of if they're just looking to up the production quality of their live-streamed events with his TV expertise. Over the past year, Turner has been broadcasting their ELEAGUE CS:GO league and the recent ELEAGUE Major, while EPSN 2 broadcast Heroes of the Dorm, EVO 2016 and the Capcom Cup finals last year.

This story was last updated at 5:40 p.m. ET on Feb. 1, 2017

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.