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BT Sport’s Hindhaugh: No long term future for esports on pay-TV

"I’ve not had many people knocking on my door wanting to pay for something they can get for free"

BT Sport’s chief operating officer Jamie Hindhaugh has said he doesn’t see pay-TV as the right place for esports in the long-term.

Since the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the majority of live sport, broadcasters have been looking for content to fill their empty schedules, with esports an easy filler.

However, speaking as part of the SportsPro Insider Series, Hindhaugh said he doesn’t see esports finding a long-term home on pay-TV as so much content is already available on OTT platforms for free.

“We’ve got a fantastic ecosystem in the UK with Twitch and YouTube and other capabilities… and, best will in the world, I’ve not had many people knocking on my door wanting to pay for something they can get for free,” he said.

Speaking of BT Sport’s foray into esports, Hindhaugh said the broadcaster wasn’t looking for a sport replacement. “What we were looking for was an entertainment format that utilised the power of esports, about bringing people together and creating a competition that enabled us to get our personality across, and bring some much needed respite to our audiences around some unique programming on our channels that combined those two worlds.”

He added that BT Sport will continue to air esports, but it will be shown alongside live sport rather than as an alternative. “With the way we’re set up currently from a commercial aspect, I don’t think we are the right platform long-term for esports whilst they’re available to audiences in very many different ways.

“That’s not denigrating esports at all, it’s recognising the ecosystem that we live in and that we’ve been established on and that we flourish in.”