Government awards £4m esports funding to ESL-led consortium

10 Jan 2019

By: Sport Industry Group

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK Government’s non-departmental public body for innovation and research, has awarded the Weavr Consortium a two-year demonstrator grant that focuses on esports broadcasting, as part of the Industry Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

The ISCF’s “Audience of the Future” challenge looks to bring the UK’s creative businesses, researchers and technologists together to create the next generation of highly immersive experiences. The Weavr consortium was selected as the winner of the Sports & Entertainment category and awarded £4 million in matched funding for the project. 

Following its success, Weavr is to create cross-reality viewing experiences, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in statistics, visualisations and data-driven stories that give them insights into the live match. It will enable fans to seamlessly move between virtual and physical viewing, as well as utilise second screens to watch esports content on the go.

The use of AI & data learning to create personalised viewing experiences will allow for fully interactive and individualised insights for the audience, all of which will permit this project to demonstrate insight into how audiences of the future engage in immersive experiences and the pathways to future commercialisation. 

Margot James MP, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, commented: “Through a consortium led by ESL, the largest esports company in the world, and including leading academics and innovators across VR/AR, AI, data-driven content production and broadcast, Weavr will transform the experiences of millions of fans not only in esports, but in traditional sports broadcast and live entertainment more broadly.”

James Dean, MD ESL UK, added: “At the forefront of an emerging and rapidly growing esports industry, we’re in a very fortunate and unique position to have insight in the live viewing habits and interactivity of young, tech savvy and early adopting audiences”

“We’re ecstatic to be working alongside industry leaders across the Weavr consortium to pave the way for the next generation of immersive technology and, with UKRI’s support, to realise a framework for the future of live entertainment and sports”

As part of the two year demonstrator, the consortium will be creating a total of 45 tech-focused jobs, as well as generating services and platforms creating UK based revenue.