Olympic Channel to embrace esports after Pyeongchang

The Olympic Channel will be looking at using esports to engage young audiences after the Pyeongchang Olympics. A digital platform launched in 2016 with a $450 million (£320.8m) budget, The Olympic Channel has been tasked with keeping young people interested in sport.

Yiannis Exarchos, The Olympic Channel
Yiannis Exarchos, The Olympic Channel

Esports was finally recognised as a sport by the International Olympic Committee in November last year, and this step is another positive sign for the industry’s future. Esports is on its way to become a billion dollar market, so it’s not too hard to see why traditional sports is opening its arms to it after years of skepticism.

Yiannis Exarchos, Executive Director of The Olympic Channel explained: “As a youthful digital platform we cannot ignore the phenomenon of esports. With the channel after the Games we want to explore the area of esports more deeply.”

“Esports is still a very male dominated area, 85 percent to 15 percent,” he continued. “Secondly a lot of the content is quite violent or has the violence narrative engrained to it. This is obviously very foreign to what the Olympics represent.”

Exarchos doesn’t think those hurdles will get it esports’ way, though. “I don’t believe any of those three current limitations are not addressable. I believe it is a movement that has emerged out of nowhere without necessarily clear directions.”

Esports Insider says: An official channel for the Olympics embracing esports is just another step in the right direction for competitive gaming. If it proves to be a success, it’d be hard to ignore esports as a viable inclusion to the Olympics in the future as has been much discussed. What form this would take of course, is very much up in the air.