The CW has made a lot of headway into their genre-based content over the last decade. From Smallville to The Vampire Diaries to the entire Arrowverse, the network has now become a place where geeks of all proclivities could go and find content that is aimed at them. The network is even now branching out into non-superhero comic book TV adaptations with its most recent TV show premiere, the Archie Comics-based Riverdale.
With the inclusion of The CW Seed, The CW has been able to expand its content even more, including everything from lifestreams to smaller original series like the Vixen animated TV show that eventually led the character to transitioning into a live-action role, in the Arrowverse (and currently, on Legends of Tomorrow season 2). Now The CW is going to be offering gaming content for a wider audience.
Per a press release from The CW:
"First team-based H1Z1: King of the Kill tournament and esports docuseries, "H1Z1: Fight for the Crown", to launch on The CW Network and CW Seed this spring."
"H1Z1: King of the Kill is a single-elimination, massive online shooter that pits 150 battle-hardened players against each other in a robust and detailed world. Search for weapons, ammo, armor, vehicles and supplies to get a leg up on your competition and be the last one standing."
The CW is offering a $300,000 prize to the winning team of H1Z1: Fight for the Crown. 15 teams of 5 players will enter and competition at the beginning of the docuseries and only one group of 5 will walk away victorious. The series will be five episodes long and air digitally (on The CW Seed), under the H1Z1: Fight for the Crown profile as part of the Echo Fox esports franchise; an organization led by former NBA player Rick Fox and video game industry veteran Jace Hall. The confirmed competing teams so far include Echo Fox, Rogue Gaming, Panda Global and Denial Esports.
This will be The CW's debut foray into e-sports, but Rick Fox brings a lot of experience in both the world of reality television (having appeared on Dancing With the Stars and guest judged RuPaul's Drag Race), as well as the e-sports. In 2015 he purchased professional League of Legends team Gravity Gaming, which he rebranded as Echo Fox as mentioned above. Since then he has expanded both the teams he owns and the players he drafts, in the same way that many professional athletes retire and take up management or running of a professional sports team. Fox also hosted The Jace Hall Show where the two first began working together.
With the rise of legitimization of e-sports and the popularity of game-based YouTube and Twitch content, this seems like a logical expansion for The CW. It could bring in the widest audience the network has enjoyed since they debuted The Flash and did some of their highest viewerships of all time. This could also allow The CW to invite their audiences to interact more directly with their content, in a way that cannot be done with their traditionally narrative programming.
Conversely, there is the concern that sports is too far afield from what people expect from The CW. It may be difficult to convince fans of gaming to engage in this tournament when they are used to going to FOX or ESPN channels or any number of online outlets to get this type of content. It will be a unique proving ground that could lead to some exciting diverse content, although it is likely to be an uphill battle.
H1Z1: Fight for the Crown airs on The CW on Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 9pm.
Source: The CW