In case you haven’t heard, the ESL Facebook deal is a huge partnership between social media giant, Facebook, and premiere esports event organizer, ESL. The deal was formally announced on January 2018 and nearly a week later, took full effect for the currently on-going ESL One Genting Minor in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
— ESL (@ESL) January 18, 2018
Already a divisive deal when it was first announced, ESL’s granting of streaming rights to their biggest tournaments to Facebook has only drawn even more negativity since. Many presumed then that the deal will have a huge impact on viewership numbers and it has; some estimate that the total number of concurrent viewers have gone down by as much as 90% from the average number of viewers. Though, as of the moment, it seems that ESL has far more pressing concerns than the tournament’s dwindling audience.
Case in point, the ESL Facebook deal has the Dota 2 community up in arms because of how they have strong-armed pretty much every streamer interested in live streaming the tournamenet on Twitch. This, despite the fact that Valve has already allowed this. At least, as long as the streamer agrees not to monetize (no ads, no subs) the stream, and to refrain from using any of the organizer’s official casters and observers.
Did we not have this issue about 2 months ago and then valve said stop it mr organizers but now its happening again anyways? Valve said we can watch games from dota tv but it gets people banned? DansGame Explain.
— Henrik Ahnberg (@AdmiralBulldog) January 24, 2018
TI3 champion and current Twitch streamer Henrik ‘AdmiralBulldog‘ Ahnberg was the first prominent Dota 2 personality to receive a DMCA takedown notice. The reason? He apparently showed ESL’s stream for a few seconds. Since the demise of the “donger”, others too have found themselves on the wrong end of Twitch’s ban hammer. This includes Dota 2 personality Brian ‘BananaSlamJamma’ Canavan, as well as up-coming streamers RawDotaTV and MLPDota.
Even BeyondtheSummit’s Portugese channel received a ban from Twitch just for streaming ESL One Genting 2018.
The Problem With the ESL Facebook Deal
The ESL Facebook deal is well within the liberty of both (all?) parties involved. ESL saw a potential opportunity for a huge influx of income and they grabbed it, declining viewership numbers be damned. However, the problem with this is that Facebook is far from the ideal platform for live streaming games. Especially not for something as large as that of Dota 2; FIFA tried it last year and it was pretty much considered a huge failure. The same goes for Paladins, another esports title who saw a huge dip in viewership numbers after migrating its stream from Twitch to Facebook.
Promo code #DMCA
— SirActionSlacks (@SirActionSlacks) January 24, 2018
Dwindling viewership numbers, however, are just part of the problem. At least, right now. As mentioned earlier, ESL has all the right to sign excusive streaming deals. It is their tournament, after all. The problem lies with how they’re forcing everyone to make the switch; they’re sending DMCA takedown notices to anyone streaming their tournament from the DotaTV in a non-commercial manner just for the sake of providing an alternative stream and releasing statements such as this one.
ESL can choose to exclusively stream all of their paid content on Facebook, but to take away anyone’s right to stream the tournament, despite it being perfectly okay according to Valve, is too much, and this is what has got the entire Dota 2 community up in arms.
How Valve Can Salvage This
ESL has made their stance clear: they want Facebook as their exclusive partner. So far, they have yet to retract the DMCA bans, which, according to some Reddit users, is illegal. After all, Dota 2 is not theirs; they are technically not allowed to ban anyone from streaming Dota 2 content, even if it is their tournament so long as the streamer is using the Dota 2 client.
This then leaves us with one option: to wait for Valve to issue yet another statement.
Will it come in the form of an “ESL is an ass and we won’t be working with them” statement? We don’t know. However, what’s clear is that only they have the power to put a stop to this madness.
Here’s to hoping that statement comes sooner rather than later.
What do you think of the ESL Facebook Deal? Do you think ESL is in the right for sending a DMCA takedown notice to streamers streaming their content? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.