Astro, the local media broadcast company (not to be confused with the brand of gaming accessories), is reported to be considering opening up a dedicated TV channel for e-sports. And by e-sports, it probably means “a lot of Dota 2”. Last year Astro actually broadcast The International, the pinnacle tournament of Dota 2 to the tune of 1.5 million viewers nation-wide. That’s a huge number there for local broadcasting, up there with all the local entertainment awards numbers for sure. They’ve even aired the Malaysian Cyber Games, as well as the recent (and disastrous) Shanghai Majors.
In an email to Digital News Asia, Astro’s head of sports Lee Choong Khay said “We (Astro) are still looking at the plan for a dedicated channel and if it is feasible, we will make the necessary announcement.” Astro are certainly considering this decision though, as they have previously aired e-sports tournaments from other games including League of Legends and Blizzard’s Hearthstone, which received consistently huge viewing. They have outlined some plans of future broadcasting as well, with FIFA and Counter Strike: Global Offensive may appear in the future.
While Western sports outlets have tried out broadcasting e-sports to mixed responses, it is interesting to see Astro going full on with this direction. It is also given that games that are now considered in the umbrella e-sports are insanely popular in Malaysia, and to an extent the whole South East Asian region. Heck, to the Malaysian layperson games might as well be Dota (or mobile games), although fans of gaming consoles and PC enthusiasts are slowly growing.
If the e-sports channel goes through, folks who can’t afford the internet connection to stream the tourneys can watch it via TV, assuming they have an Astro subscription. Hopefully it would inspire more of our local boys to make it to the international level. Sure there are some already made it, but the more the merrier. If the plan falls through, the current arrangement of broadcasting selected tourneys still has solid viewership numbers, so it’s not a total disappointment one way or the other.
Don’t expect more coverage of e-sports from us anytime soon though. Apparently none of the current GamerMalaya crew here are into Dota. But if someday fighting game tourneys like EVO or CEO gets broadcasted on Astro, we’ll keep you posted.