CJ E&M is diving headfirst into the US esports market. As the operator of the world’s first game channel OGN, CJ E&M announced on the 11th that it will open the 1,000-pyeong esports arena and studio next month on the west coast of the US, and produce and distribute esports broadcasts and entertainment contents.
▲A bird’s-eye view of OGN esports arena of CJ E&M in Los Angeles, US
|CJ E&M is growing into the world’s largest esports business operator
CJ E&M has been broadcasting online games and producing game show contents since 2000 even before the term ‘esports’ first appeared in popular lexicon. Based on this experience, the company 1) holds and runs professional league games of popular global online games, 2) broadcasts esports and produces game entertainment contents, 3) finds mega game IPs, and 4) develops distribution and additional business in partnership with major broadcasting stations and online platforms.
According to the Korea Creative Content Agency, more and more North American viewers enjoy watching the games of professional gamers. Profits from sales of passes and tickets to participate in esports, marketing and advertising, and league broadcasting rights are rapidly on the rise. Forbes also announced that the worldwide esports market sales amounted to $1 billion in 2018 and are expected to reach $1.65 billion by 2021. Accordingly, CJ E&M set its goal to become the world’s largest esports business operator based on the North American esports market that is currently showing rapid growth.
CJ E&M is dispatching a producer that has been in charge of esports production for at least 15 years as well as 10 production and business employees of OGN to the US. By doing so, the company will internalize Korea’s esports world-leading expertise and experience into its efforts in North America, and reinforce the local contents by collaborating with major esports studios in that region such as NGE and ESP. Moreover, former executive of the Media Contents Unit Lee Deok-Jae, who is regarded as the top specialist in contents and media business by successfully launching major channels of CJ E&M like tvN and XTM, will oversee the esports business in North America, providing differentiated esports experience.
The studio to be built in Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles will be 35,000 square foot (approximately 1,000 pyeong), which is the biggest on the west coast of the US with a capacity for 500 audience seats and 100 player seats. It will also feature North America’s first arena specialized in battle royale games. The battle royale game refers to a survival shooting game in which as many as 100 players start the game at the same time and strive to be the last survivor by avoiding the magnetic field that gets tighter and tighter in an isolated place after some time. Currently, the most popular game IP ‘PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ is a battle royale game. The arena will have the world’s first three-sided LED screens in esports as well as a 5.1Ch surround sound audio system to provide the best possible immersive experience for the audience. It also features optimum facilities for the convenience of the audience such as theater-style seats, VIP rounds and a game experience zone.
|Expanding into the North American market by actively launching leagues and events
CJ E&M has also been selected as the exclusive partner of Korean game developer Bluehole ‘s subsidiary ‘PUBG Corporation’ for North America. Accordingly, the first foray into the US market will be the ‘National PUBG League’ starting next year. This is the official professional league of ‘PUBG’ that is most popular in the world.
The company also plans to actively launch and expand its own leagues and event IPs. It will expand into the North American market by hosting OSM (OGN SUPER MATCH) by inviting the top gamers to a contest of champions for 2-3 days, and OSL (OGN SUPER LEAGUE) that holds a regular league for 1-2 months with the top gamers. The studio located in the arena that is currently under construction in Los Angeles will also capture the attention of North American esports fans with interactive game shows, documentary series of the professional teams and gamers, VR game shows and events with celebrities and professional gamers.
“It’s great that CJ E&M’s OGN has been tasked with broadcasting the official leagues and producing additional contents in North America for ‘PUBG’ which is very popular around the world,” said CJ E&M America CEO Lee Deok-Jae. “Based on the experience and know-how of Korea being the leader of esports, we’re aiming to become the leading global esports business operator by establishing a bridgehead in the rapidly growing esports market in North America.”
CJ E&M’s game channel OGN has established itself as the leader of e-culture that young people all over the world are in a frenzy about, by developing the new field of ‘esports’ and contents with the world’s first and best game channel in the last 18 years. It has produced over 500 global esports leagues and events so far since its foundation in 2000, and airs at least 3,000 hours of contents every year. Its cumulative live streaming views amount to 200 million a year.