Riot Games is allowing teams in the North American League of Legends Championship Series to produce and sell their own streams of their developmental team competitions this summer, opening a new revenue stream for teams. Cloud9 is the first organization to sell a sponsorship for its Thursday night Academy League team stream, striking a deal with Mammoth Media, the publisher of the live-trivia app Arena. Academy League teams play on Thursdays and Fridays, but in the spring season, Riot only produced a single, league-run stream on Friday and distributed Thursday night games as video on demand. In April, teams asked if they could develop home-team broadcasts on Thursdays, and Riot agreed. Along with presenting rights, Arena will run esports-themed trivia during the Thursday night pre- and post-game shows on the Cloud9 Twitch channel, Cloud9 said. Terms were not disclosed, but the Academy League streams often draw more than 30,000 viewers, making it comparable to some recent Rocket League competitions. Arena will run trivia competitions during the Cloud9 broadcasts.
BUILDING AN IDENTITY: NA LCS League Operations Manager & Commissioner Chris Greeley said the Thursday night, team-run casts will help teams build identities for the lower-tier players. “We’re excited to see what teams can do with it,” Greeley said. Notably, he also said that it could eventually be a precursor for a day when NA LCS teams are granted exclusive geographic territories and run “local” broadcasts routinely, as MLB, NBA and NHL teams do today. “That is not the purpose of this,” Greeley emphasized, but, he added: “This could be a training ground for teams if they were going to handle a regional broadcast." Every team except Team SoloMid has decided to produce their own stream on Thursdays, according to Riot. Riot’s decision to turn limited media rights over to the teams is notable in light of concerns that team organizations’ revenue is limited by the expansive rights kept by esport publishers. All told, the teams will now be able to produce their own casts of 10 of the 18 games on the summer schedule. Friday will remain a league-run stream in the Academy League. Play starts Thursday.
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