Astro gets into e-sports, Dota 2 broadcast pulls in 1.5mil viewers
By Goh Thean Eu August 18, 2015
- TI5 broadcasts attracts 1.5mil viewers, pay-TV operator encouraged
- Live broadcast part of strategy to engage with growing base of e-sports fans
THE live broadcast of The International 2015 Dota 2 Championship (TI5) videogame tournament by pay-TV operator Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd from Aug 4-9 attracted close to 1.5 million viewers in Malaysia.
It was a commendable viewership number, especially given that it was the first time Astro had such a live broadcast and the matches took place only after 1am local time.
According to its head of sports business Lee Choong Khay, Astro also managed to reach over one million users via its various social media platforms.
“We managed to reach 1.3 million Facebook users while on Twitter, the Dota topic trended upon our announcement that we would air the programme live.
“This reaffirms our belief that e-sports [electronic sports] has a growing popularity among youth in Malaysia,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) via email.
“This was the first time we aired e-sports on our platform, and we are encouraged by the response’” he added.
The International (TI) is an annual electronic sports championship tournament hosted by Valve Corp for its Defense of the Ancients (Dota) multiplayer online battle arena videogame. The first such tourney took place in 2011.
According to Lee (pic), the decision to broadcast the event live was mainly driven by the growing e-sports industry in Malaysia.
“With a total of 14 sports channels, we offer the best of key live sporting events ranging from the BPL (Barclay’s Premier League football) to Wimbledon and Formula One racing,” he said.
“We would like to expand our ‘home of sports’ proposition to include e-sports, and what better way than to broadcast The International – a highly popular global tournament – with 10 million e-sports fans in Malaysia,” he said, without disclosing a source for that number.
Meanwhile, this year’s tournament featured an all-Malaysian team called Fnatic, while Malaysians were also part of the Invictus Gaming and compLexity Gaming teams.
TI5 featured a record prize pool of US$18.42 million and the winning team, Team Evil Geniuses (pic below), took home US$6.6 million, or approximately US$1.32 million per team member.
Chinese team CDEC came in second, taking home US$2.8 million, while Fnatic finished at the 13-16th slot with prize winnings of US$55,133. Invictus and compLexity finished in 9-12th placing with cash prizes of US$220,534.
Valve, which also developed other popular games like Half-Life, Counter-Strike and Team Fortress, contributed only US$1.6 million, while the bulk of the prize pool came from Dota 2 players and fans.
Prior to the tournament, Dota 2 players were able to buy the TI5 ‘compendium’ for US$9.99 and could also ‘level up’ their compendiums for US$26.99 – 25% of the purchase price went into the TI5 prize pool.
Astro’s decision to broadcast the event live also raises the question if it plans to introduce a dedicated e-sports channel. Such a move would allow it to capture a younger and growing target audience.
“As a content and consumer company, we aspire to bring the best of international, regional and local content of all genres to our customers,” said Lee.
“E-sports is growing in popularity in Malaysia and Astro aired TI5 to engage a new wave of sports fans, including Dota 2 fans and the fast-growing e-sports community.
“At this point, there are no plans to launch an e-sports channel. However, we are always open to the idea if there is huge interest,” he added.
Besides the fan base, the overall revenue of the gaming industry is also on the rise. According to IDC, online games revenue in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.53% and to hit US$30 billion in 2018, versus US$12.96 billion in 2013.
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