The world of esports broadcasting just got a whole lot more competitive.
Esports company Azubu announced a major stimulus today for the upcoming April relaunch of their streaming platform, Azubu.tv. Private investment firm Sapinda Group, who already holds a stake in the German-based Azubu, will increase their investment with $34.5 million in equity capital funding.
The move underscores the growth of Azubu TV in the burgeoning global esports broadcast market, topping the latest round of venture funding for primary competitor Twitch.TV, who received $20 million of Series C money in November of 2013.
“Esports deserves a premier broadcast platform which respects the global nature of esports,” a Sapinda spokesperson said, adding that the company was committed to providing Azubu the support necessary to make that happen.
"Azubu has the leadership, vision, partnerships, and technology to radically elevate the eSports viewing experience," the spokesperson said.
That leadership comes in the form of CEO Ian Sharpe, who took the helm of Azubu in November of 2013 and has helped focus the company on their primary goal: Expanding the esports audience.
“At Azubu we offer seamless game streaming, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Sharpe, in an October press release, “We’re also introducing talented young players, providing insightful commentary and broadening esports-awareness at the corporate and consumer levels.”
Sharpe joined at the end of a tumultuous year for Azubu. The company established partnerships with American League of Legends powerhouse Counter Logic Gaming and sponsored Riot Games’ League Championship Series. But in June, allegations of fraud contributed to the closure of its office in esports mecca South Korea. The company brought in Sharpe shortly thereafter to renew the focus on its streaming media platform.
The changes also led to the dissolution of one of the most iconic parts of Azubu’s business: Their esports team.
Team Azubu featured Korean League squads Blaze and Frost and a number of talented Starcraft 2 players, like Dong-Hyun “Symbol” Kang and Young-Jin “SuperNova” Kim. In February 2014, Azubu shut down its squads to focus on partnering with existing esports entities.
The next stage of Azubu TV’s development will begin in April with the re-launch of their website. Whether they can challenge Twitch as the premier esports broadcast platform in 2014 remains to be seen. But they have 34.5 million new reasons to think it’s possible.
Illustration by Jason Reed