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ESPN ramps up esports focus as Riot appoints new LoL esports global head

Disney-owned sports broadcaster ESPN has announced the launch of EXP, an esports event series.

The company said that EXP competitions will be a mix of professional, collegiate and pro-am formats, with multiple game IP and genres featured across the series.

Live event distribution will be via multiple digital platforms including the ESPN app, and a tape-delayed show focused on key moments and storylines will debut across ESPN/ABC linear networks after each event.

“Leaning in to esports represents ESPN’s focus on serving sports fans and expanding audiences,” said Justin Connolly, executive vice president of Disney & ESPN affiliate sales and marketing. “We remain committed to serving gaming fans across all platforms and content types, and Apex Legends is a great title to showcase EXP’s vision of offering world-class live esports events anchored by storytelling and multi-platform distribution.”

The next confirmed event of the EXP series will be based around the Electronic Arts (EA) published title Apex Legends, which has over 50 million players worldwide. The EXP Pro-Am Apex Legends Exhibition will take place during the week of July 1. Following that will be the EXP Invitational – Apex Legends at X Games Minneapolis, held August 1-4 at US Bank Stadium. Apex Legends will be the only esports event showcased at X Games Minneapolis 2019.

John Lasker, vice president of digital programming at ESPN“We are proud ESPN continues to be at the forefront of the growth and popularity of esports, collaborating with some of the top publishers in the industry including EA for our first-ever esports event series. EXP, short for experience, has been central to gaming history, and giving fans a great experience is central to our strategy at ESPN.”

John Needham, Riot Games

Elsewhere in the world of esports, Riot Games has promoted John Needham to the role of global head of League of Legends esports.  He previously served as the company’s managing director of Europe and North America.

Needham will oversee the company’s efforts to expand internationally with the accelerated growth of regional leagues.