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Blizzard Signs Exclusive Broadcast Deal with GOM for South Korea

Blizzard may have just dealt the deathblow to the Korean eSports Players Association (KeSPA) and existing professional StarCraft leagues in South Korea. The company has signed an exclusive broadcast deal (via with Gretech-GomTV, which will be the only company licensed to broadcast leagues, tournaments, or gameplay for all Blizzard games.

Blizzard's statement explains the deal:

With the recent agreement, the rights to operate and broadcast all Blizzard game leagues including Starcraft II belong to GomTV, and [all tournaments] must be run after negotiating with GomTV.

In consideration of the fans and players, the presently running Starcraft 1 leagues will be allowed to suspend negotiations [with GOM] until August of this year, or another solution will be found.

As such, OnGameNet and MBCGame, two other channels that broadcast such StarCraft 1 leagues, will be able to finish out the current seasons, but after August must negotiate a deal with GomTV to continue broadcasting. This comes after a long battle between Blizzard and KeSPA over IP rights and licensing. KeSPA, the ruling body of Korean StarCraft and other game tournmanets, did not pay to license Blizzard's IP, but claimed it was open to negotiating a deal. The two companies could not come to a mutual understanding and Blizzard chose to partner with GOM.

Blizzard has worked previously with GOM on several one-off StarCraft exhibitions and invitational tournaments, the third of which was effectively shut down by KeSPA when it threatened to penalize players and teams that participated in the Blizzard sanctioned event. The GomTV events established an international following by providing an English language stream featuring commentary from Nick "Tasteless" Plott.

KeSPA plans to hold a press conference on Monday to issue a response to this development. It will be interesting to see what happens to StarCraft 1 leagues in Korea as well as the uptake of StarCraft II in the professional scene.

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