The North American League of Legends Championship Series will be broadcast on newly launched streaming service ESPN+ beginning with the summer split in a multiyear deal, ESPN and Riot Games announced Friday.
The nonexclusive agreement will not affect services that currently broadcast League of Legends such as Twitch, YouTube and Riot's in-game player. It will open up yet another avenue for esports and traditional sports fans to watch League of Legends broadcasts within ESPN's subscription-based network.
The NA LCS summer split kicks off June 16 and runs Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 19. After the summer split, top teams will compete for the NA LCS summer finals at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, Sept. 8-9. The top three North American teams will qualify for the League of Legends World Championships in South Korea in August. The NA summer finals, world championship, North American Academy League, Mid-Season Invitational, All-Star event and Rift Rivals (featuring North America) will also be featured on ESPN+.
Two Riot Games sources said the new ESPN+ will replace the previous deal between BAMTech and Riot Games, which was a seven-year agreement beginning in Dec. 2016 in which BAMTech agreed to pay Riot $300 million through 2023. Riot will still use some of the technologies developed with BAMTech during the past two years, although the sources declined to go into further detail. The change follows a number of factors, including a 42 percent acquisition of BAMTech by The Walt Disney Company in August (making Disney, the parent company of ESPN, a 75 percent shareholder in BAMTech) and a change in Riot executive leadership, including former CEO Brandon Beck and president Marc Merrill stepping down in October to focus on game creation, rather than company leadership.
ESPN+ is the company's direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service, which was redesigned and launched earlier this year. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for $4.99 a month or $49.99 per year.
ESPN esports reporter Jacob Wolf contributed to this report.