ESPN is scaling back its big push into the world of eSports.
The first casualty in this scaling back is the annual “Heroes of the Dorm” tournament, where teams from American colleges compete in the game “Heroes of the Storm.” The first two years of the tournament were broadcast on ESPN2, which drew relatively low viewership numbers and elicited passionate reactions from regular ESPN viewers.
But in its third year, the tournament will become a Facebook exclusive.
“For the first time ever, ‘Heroes of the Dorm’ will be broadcast via Facebook Live on the ‘Heroes of the Storm’ Esports Facebook page, beginning with the regular season and continuing all the way through the Heroic Four and National Championship,” a press release from Blizzard Entertainment, the game’s creator, says.
While that expands the potential viewership of the tournament, it also marks a major step away from eSports from the largest sports broadcaster in the world.
ESPN pushed hard into eSports with its support of the “Heroes of the Dorm” tournament, which it broadcast for two years, in addition to starting a dedicated eSports section on ESPN’s website. With the transition to Facebook, ESPN is making a strong statement about the tournament’s success with viewers and its continuing dedication — or lack thereof — to covering eSports.
If you’re interested in following this year’s season, your best bet is to head to the official “Heroes of the Storm” Facebook page. Rather than solely broadcasting the finals, Blizzard is broadcasting the entire season over Facebook Live.