What Blast’s Dota 2 expansion means for Blast.tv

Today, May 8, the esports company Blast announced that it is expanding into “Dota 2,” Valve Corporation’s popular multiplayer online battle arena game. The goal of this expansion is to bring new audiences into the entire Blast esports ecosystem — but the real winner of the move is Blast.tv, the company’s homegrown streaming platform.

Blast launched Blast.tv in November 2022 to act as both a hub for esports data and a platform to stream the company’s “Counter-Strike” tournaments. At the moment, it’s a free service, and Blast has no immediate plans to put any part of it behind a paywall. 

Blast livestreams its events across both Blast.tv and third-party streaming platforms such as Twitch. To bring viewers into Blast.tv, Blast has loaded it up with a suite of in-depth viewing tools and regularly updated in-game data feeds, not unlike the extra features included in FACEIT Watch, the homegrown viewing channel of Blast rival ESL/FACEIT Group. Like FACEIT Watch, Blast.tv is free-to-use, not a premium, paid product. Unlike FACEIT Watch, Blast.tv does not currently include advertisements inside its livestreams.

As of today, “Dota 2” has joined “Counter-Strike” on Blast.tv, becoming only the second esport to be featured on the platform. Digiday spoke to Blast.tv head of product Rory McEvoy to learn why Blast.tv is going all-in on “Dota 2.”

This conversation has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

On the decision to bring “Dota 2” to Blast.tv

Rory McEvoy:

“One thing that really stood out to us is the openness and the ability to access data on “Dota.” The “Dota” ecosystem, from a digital perspective, is completely open. You can pull data on pretty much every tournament, every pro player over the past 10 years. Looking at it from a product perspective, this allows us to build a one-stop shop product looking at all aspects of “Dota 2,” and that’s something that we’re really excited by.”

Digiday:

Blast’s reasons for investing in “Dota 2” are an endorsement of Valve’s approach to its broader esports ecosystem. Compared to the publishers of other major esports titles, such as Activision Blizzard and Riot Games, Valve has always been relatively laissez-faire with its esports strategy, allowing third-party organizers to run their own events with the occasional injection of Valve prize money from on high. It’s no surprise that “Counter-Strike,” Blast.tv’s other featured esport, was also published by Valve.

On the benefits of the “Dota 2” expansion for Blast.tv as a streaming product

Rory McEvoy:

“That whole new audience is going to be something really, really powerful for us. We’re working on the hypothesis that there will be maybe a five percent overlap between ‘CS’ fans and ‘Dota’ fans, but the vast majority of people that are going to be using the product will be really big fans, and we want to build that out and expand our user base.”

Digiday:

If Blast wants to turn Blast.tv into a truly sustainable revenue stream, it might be necessary for the platform to continue expanding into esports beyond “Counter-Strike.” The reality of boutique streaming products such as Blast.tv — tacitly acknowledged by McEvoy in this answer — is that the available audience for this type of esports viewership experience is still not large enough to justify paying for premium viewing experiences tied specifically to one esport. One cautionary tale in this vein was Riot Games’ “League of Legends” focused Pro View product, which the publisher launched in 2019 and closed in 2022. 

On the likelihood of ads coming to Blast.tv in the future

Rory McEvoy:

“We’re exploring lots of opportunities. We don’t have ads in the Watch functionality of Blast.tv currently, so that is not something that we’re offering. We have ads on different aspects of the site, more like Google Ads, but in the Watch functionality, we’re not offering that. It’s something to consider, and we’re really delving into the monetization of Blast.tv, but it’s something we haven’t decided on. Our main focus is expanding the audience before we have to tackle that big question.”

Digiday: 

Blast was profitable for the first time in 2023 — but this profit was the result of the company’s closer partnerships with the publishers with whom it organizes esports events. Blast.tv represents a revenue stream for the company that is more independent of the whims of publisher partners, and perhaps a safer bet for Blast’s long-term esports goals. What’s clear is that Blast.tv is still in the experimental stage; when asked, Blast reps left the door wide open for just about any revenue stream that might help the platform turn a profit in the future.

https://digiday.com/?p=544147

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