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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 June 2006, 01:02 GMT 02:02 UK
US TV network to air game events
Gamers take part in tournament, AP
The deal means some tournaments will be televised live
US satellite TV company DirecTV has signed a deal with the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) to broadcast a series of video game events.

Pro-players that qualify for the CPL's Winter tournament will be the first to have their battles broadcast to 15 million DirecTV subscribers.

CPL founder Angel Munoz said the deal would help establish e-sports as a serious pastime.

The news comes as another broadcaster prepares a dedicated gaming channel.

Watching brief

Mr Munoz told the BBC News website that the exclusive deal will also cover a series of CPL events due to be held in 2007.

DirecTV was planning trials with some of its own gaming tournaments to help work out how best to cover pro-gaming events, said Mr Munoz.

DirecTV was planning two tournaments later in 2006 for pro-gamers from which live and recorded coverage would be prepared, he said. DirecTV has developed technology that puts virtual cameras inside the game worlds where pro-players take each other on. By contrast to CPL events, the DirecTV tournaments will be based around console games.

Mr Munoz said coverage of the CPL Winter Event, which takes place in Dallas from 13-17 December, would be broadcast live. The fact that DirecTV was owned by News Corp which also owned Fox News and the IGN gaming network would only boost the profile of pro-gaming, he said.

Mr Munoz said the deal with MTV to provide coverage of the CPL World Tour 2005 final showed that there was a large potential audience for televised tournaments. More than 1.1 million people watched the highlights of the tournament when they were broadcast, he said.

The CPL World Tour was a globe-hopping event that handed out prize money of $1m to pro-gamers.

At the same time Mr Munoz said the CPL had signed up several key sponsors which would help firmly establish pro-gaming and e-sports as significant events.

One significant sponsor, said Mr Munoz, was fast food firm Pizza Hut.

"E-sports has got to the point where a company outside hi-tech is interested enough to invest dollars and their brand as well," he said.

Mr Munoz said that when the CPL was established in 1997 he knew that it would take about a decade to get established.

"I realised that all sports take 10-20 years to get to a mass audience," he said. "Here we are almost ten years later and now we have mass media interested in it."

The news comes as US network Voom reveals its plans to dedicate an entire channel to gaming and tournaments. Voom is also planning to show some coverage in high-definition format.

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