“It’s eSports. Yes, they are sports” is the tagline for a new Australian multi-channel dedicated to professional video gaming.

Last week, Australia’s Seven West Media unveiled their brand new “social, mobile-first brand” known as ScreenPLAY via a live stream on Facebook.

The new show integrates Facebook, YouTube and Twitch – implying it will not be a traditional broadcast-only show – and will focus on the billion-dollar industry, eSports.

The two hosts Stephanie Bendixsen and Nich Richardson – ABC’s former Good Game presenters – will review eSports events and also cover the latest news, live streams and games, while also integrating interviews and tournament rundowns.

Their first Facebook live stream took place last Thursday, which has since been uploaded to their YouTube channel. The 47-minute video has received over 3000 views and is described by Richardson as a “verbal press release” in the first few minutes.

They provide a rundown on what to expect from the show and explain the digital platforms will host weekday content.

The show also keeps it interactive via the hashtag #screenplayau.

“The digital stuff is going to get super nerdy,” Richardson explains later on in the video.

“We might do a patch note read,” Bendixsen suggests.

“A seven-hour Dota 2 patch note read,” Richardson quips.

After a short preview of an event expected to be covered on ScreenPLAY in the coming weeks, Bendixsen reveals they will also take a look at Australian and international eSports and speak with teams from all around the world, recount tournaments and more.

Then the pair goes on to play and review PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

More content has been uploaded to their YouTube channel and shared on their Facebook page since the launch, including content covering the E3 press conference.

While it has not been added to the website schedule yet, ScreenPLAY will also be aired weekly on 7Mate from June 29. It will be broadcast on free-to-air TV on Thursday nights and then the content will also be added to the digital platforms the following day.

Media reports have revealed Seven will announce several commercial partners for ScreenPLAY this week, which will likely target males in their teens to mid-30s – though recent research has revealed more and more females are becoming interested in eSports.

Seven chief digital officer, Clive Dickens, revealed to AdNews the network chose to tap into the digital market due to the connection to eSports.

“eSports audiences are not your typical linear TV consumers and brands who want to reach them are utilising incremental budgets to go and find them because they are attractive young adults,” Dickens says.”

eSports is expected to explode in Australia, with a huge turnout at the Intel Extreme Masters in Sydney a few weeks ago supporting the claim. More than 10,000 budding gamers showed up to watch the event, with the German team, SK Gaming, taking home first place and pocketing $100,000.

“We are at the beginning of what’s going to be one of the most exciting decades of the professionalism of eSports in this country,” Dickens added.

It is not just set to explode in Australia, but all around the world. It is being suggested eSports will be trialled in the Olympics either in 2024 or 2028.

Professional sporting leagues are also taking an interest in professional video gaming with the Australian Football League (AFL) encouraging teams to sponsor eSports teams.

Seven West Media has made a bold move in creating a multi-channel platform dedicated to eSports, but given its expected prosperity, it is likely to pay off.

It will also help eSports popularity grow Down Under and we are incredibly excited for what is to come.

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