Tournament organiser and production company BLAST has launched BLAST.tv, a new live viewing platform designed for esports enthusiasts.
The platform looks to bolster BLAST Premier viewership experiences by implementing live stats, a moderated chat, interactive polls and timeline features, among others. As of right now, the free-to-use platform only includes BLAST Premier’s CS:GO events.
The tournament organiser’s events will not be exclusive to BLAST.tv — meaning that viewers can still watch the CS:GO events on other streaming platforms such as Twitch and Youtube. Alongside BLAST.tv’s live experience, the platform will feature a range of non-live content such as player stats, team standings, mini-games, news and exclusive content.
“When you’re watching the content on Twitch and YouTube, they’re amazing platforms, obviously a huge market share across esports and others as well. But, it didn’t really feel like that experience was particularly tailored to our fans,” Tom Greene, BLAST’s Chief Growth Officer, told Esports Insider.
Improving the viewing experience of esports fans, particularly avid watchers of the tournament organiser’s popular CS:GO series, is central to the platform’s logic. “You see a lot of sports and media holders doing the strategy we’re going down where, for a segment of the audience, you provide as deepened experiences as possible,” Greene added.
The consumer launch coincides with BLAST Premier’s Fall Final in Copenhagen, which is scheduled to take place November 23rd. But the real test for the platform will be BLAST’s first ever Major event in Paris next year. BLAST’s successful bid for the Paris Major, alongside the organiser’s expansion into a range of titles outside CS:GO, continues to highlight BLAST’s diversification and growth trajectory.
“We built BLAST.tv, we then won the Major — we’ve made BLAST.tv the headline sponsor of our own major,” he said. “That’s a great example of moving into a different product (BLAST Major), having a platform (BLAST.tv) that you can then promote by holding that product, and making an in-arena and at-home experience for everyone watching.”
BLAST.tv currently ony serves CS:GO fans, a title which until recently BLAST exclusively focused on. However, while no plans are officially in the works, Greene did say that the company has ambitions to welcome other titles into BLAST.tv alongside its BLAST Premier product.
BLAST.tv looks to build on the growth of esports fandoms, as casual audiences start to become more and more knowledgeable about the games they watch. However, there were challenges that had to be addressed while developing the platform — which has been built completely in-house.
Notably, Greene spoke about user behaviour, detailing that watching esports-tailored platforms is very different from traditional out-of-the-box streaming services. Unlike watching an episode on a streaming service or enjoying a football match for a specific allotted time, many esports broadcasts — especially CS:GO — are incredibly long.
As such, viewing habits for these audiences are different. Some audiences may only watch certain teams, while others might want readily digestible information if they jump into a broadcast mid-game.
Green detailed: “What I was observing looking at the user behaviour of our fans is that while they’re watching on Twitch and YouTube, they might also be on HLTV looking at stats, they might be on Twitter having a conversation about the game, then they might have another social media platform going deeper on a particular issue. I thought that felt quite disjointed.
“We talk about second screen experience — you’re sort of getting on to fourth and fifth screens there.”
By providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ for fans, BLAST.tv looks to make these resources more readily available for fans, which could, in turn, help engross audiences even more.
Greene also highlighted that the features are built around ‘community’. As such, on its release the platform will feature its own chat system, mini-games and non-live content, alongside potential giveaways.
BLAST.tv was predominantly built as a tool to improve fan experiences, but commercial opportunities are never far off. “Whenever you broaden out the capabilities you have to offer as a business, there are interesting things you can do in the medium term,” said BLAST’s Chief Growth Officer.
By adding a new hub in which BLAST content could feasibly permanently live, it presents new opportunities for partners — old and new. For example, BLAST has a major partnership with Betway, which includes co-producing a wide range of content across its CS:GO series’ social channels and broadcasts. Moving that branded content inside the more engaging hub naturally adds more value to potential partner deals.
“Could a partner end up sponsoring areas of the site, like Rolex do with Wimbledon? All of those are available to us,” added Greene. “Of course, the more people enjoy BLAST.tv, the more those opportunities will come up. But I think the primary focus for us was to build a fan experience that people love, and then we will sort of figure everything out after that.”
Ultimately, BLAST.tv is the company’s vision to mature the industry by providing a more esports-specific viewership experience to those who seek that extra engagement.
The topic of fan engagement is not new in the esports industry; in fact, it’s arguably being discussed more than ever. Organisations are looking to unite fandoms under one roof, and companies are increasingly launching holistic esports ecosystems that are designed to entice casual fans as much as professional players.
This is BLAST’s innovative attempt to cultivate a growing fanbase through its coveted CS:GO esports series. “I think we’ve got a chance now to take that baton and try and show the way for 360 fan engagement in a way that maybe hasn’t quite been the focus from publishers or tournament organisers to date.”