The Australian Esports League (AEL) has selected OVO Mobile as its exclusive broadcast partner for the next five years, with a new dedicated esports channel on OVOPlay to start streaming content from Easter Monday.
As part of the agreement, Easter will also see the launch of newly-created AEL University Cup. “Esports is the future of sport, and traditional sport broadcasters who ignore that are in immediate danger of becoming irrelevant to kids and millennials,” said OVO CEO Matt Jones.
The AEL University Cup will feature intense competition fought between a number of teams from universities across Australia in the first ten weeks of competition. Currently, there are 28 universities that have student-led esports or competitive gaming clubs, a loose federation of sorts, which the AEL University Cup intends to bring together to improve prospects for passionate students keen to develop their esports career.
OVO will offer more than 140 hours of exclusive content with expert commentary and analysis produced by AEL, reaching an expected audience of 1,000,000 Australians over the first year.
The deal represents an extension for OVO beyond traditional grassroots and other sports that are underrepresented in mainstream TV broadcasting, into the lucrative and rapidly-escalating esports arena.
“It was inevitable that OVO would move into the esports space,” said Jones. “We’re about creating a home for unique content for fans of specific sports and entertainment, and esports has one of the fastest-growing fan bases in the world.
“There are three key reasons why AEL is a great fit for OVO. One, esports has a massive fan base but isn’t covered or even understood by traditional broadcasters,” Jones added.
“Two, its viewers are also participants, who are tuning in religiously not only for entertainment, but also to learn how to improve their own performance. And three, with the AEL University Cup, we are supporting the grass roots who will go on to represent Australia internationally.
For OVO, which built its mobile telco business around its unique fan-focused sport and entertainment broadcast content platform OVOPlay, its extension into esports represents another way to attract hard-to-reach youth and millennial audiences.
“The largest segment of OVO’s customers is aged between 10 and 25,” said Jones. “They, and their parents, are the main users of our most subscribed prepaid mobile products.”