ESL and DreamHack enter Chinese media rights deal with DouYu

ESL and DreamHack, both under parent company Modern Times Group (MTG), have signed a one-year, Mandarin-language exclusive deal with Chinese streaming service DouYu.

The ESL Pro Tour for Starcraft II and Warcraft III will be live-streamed exclusively on DouYu in Mandarin and other Chinese dialects.

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Photo credit: ESL

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This deal follows a similar deal in April where Twitch gained the rights to exclusively stream ESL and DreamHack events in English, although that deal spanned three years. The deal with Twitch also included the ESL Pro Tour competitions for both CS:GO and Dota 2, in addition to Warcraft III and StarCraft II. DouYu’s biggest Chinese competitor Huya acquired the rights to ESL CS:GO and Dota 2 events just last week. 

Frank Uddo, Senior Vice President Global Media at ESL, said in the release: “Here at ESL we are always looking for opportunities to extend our distribution portfolio to reach as many people as possible. DouYu is a premier streaming platform and this deal, for the StarCraft II and WarCraft 3 ESL Pro Tours, marks a significant step in our ambitions to provide the best viewing experience for Chinese-speaking fans all around the world.”

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DouYu reported 158 million monthly active users this year according to the release. That’s just slightly higher than Huya, which reported 151 million monthly active users in Q1 of 2020. 

Cheng Chao, COO at DouYu, said in the release: “Our partnership with ESL and DreamHack strengthens our hold as a premium live-streaming platform in China. ESL and DreamHack have served esports fans globally for many years, providing fans with the best gaming experience and fostering an esports community like no other. As we see a natural interest in RTS esports in China, partnering with ESL and DreamHack is the best possible scenario for our viewers.”

Esports Insider says: The two primarily events-focused companies under Modern Times Group have had to sign exclusive deals to try to plug pandemic-created losses. These exclusive deals will at least provide some support to the company, but can’t entirely stymie the losses from lack of in-person events. 

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