When ESPN shelved its eSports division, it was easy to view it was a bearish sign. Was it?
Nyet. As my colleague mentioned:
“We already have plenty of eSports organizations, networks, etc that have been providing this content for years. EVO, Overwatch League, even tournaments held by publishers of the games that are covered. So, ESPN was already late to the party when they announced the division.”
I agree: this seems more about cost-cutting and an incumbent (with major challenges on other fronts) realizing it won’t be able to out-hustle those who are razor-focused on eSports. Challengers tend to “burn the boats” and acknowledge they’ve ventured the point of no return, whereas incumbents are always still in defensive mode.
I called my venture fund Granicus Group, as Granicus river is when Alexander the Great crossed into Asia Minor – that was his point of no return, at which point he knew he’d march all the way to Persepolis to avenge the Persians torching of Athens in 480BC.
Whereas startups tend to embrace the wind’s direction, incumbents don’t have that luxury and need to resist, for as long as possible. In most cases, the new business is never really big enough to offset the loss of the traditional one. While ESPN will cover eSports in its normal coverage, having a stand-alone dedicated unit focused on eSports didn’t make sense. But throwing out the baby with the bathwater will invariably come back to haunt ESPN…