Gamerz – the first eSports reality format
BY Iliyan Stoychev
eSports is not just big, it’s huge. A recent report from IHS Markit shows that total hours viewed in the genre grew 19% to 6 billion globally in 2016. By 2019 this number will jump over the 9 billion mark. Advertisers are also noticing this trend and starting to invest heavily in this ad segment which got $280 million in 2016 and will go over $1 billion by 2021.

eSports also opens new opportunities for format creators to develop a new genre, combining the best elements from the TV and gaming world to offer the best viewing experience to the fans. This May, Gaming Zone Entertainment – the eSports arm of IFG, launched Gamerz – the first eSports reality show in the world. Creative Director Robert Jönsson tells Iliyan Stoychev what makes Gamerz and eSports in general so special.
Robert, what is the story behind the creation of Gamerz. How successful was this entirely digital project?
Very successful for us. A lot of attention and acceptance. Also, we tested the format and it works very well. The drama has been intense and there has been a lot of humor and nice characters to love.

We created a really talented brand new pro team from scratch, thousands of talents applied during the series and the feedback from some of the greatest names as well as big brands in the business has been overwhelming. We are happy with the first edition, and are now focusing on our next editions – Europe and US.

Let’s talk about the target audience. If one is not a CS:GO player, can one find Gamerz engaging? Or does the format appeal strictly to gaming audience?
The main target group are gamers, people who like to game or watch other people play. But we want to give them something new, more, the important layers of storytelling. To care about the people, building favorites, to engage in the series, and how it will go for the talents. Who will make it? It’s classic drama and storytelling. So everyone who is a bit interested in gaming and CS:GO is the main target. The good news was that people who knew nothing about CS:GO or gaming actually found it interesting and thrilling. That’s a very nice thing for us as well as the gamers and eSports fans seem to like it a lot.

What technical challenges did you have with Gamerz?
A lot. We had a 24/7 live production on air during 3 weeks in a row. On top of that we produced a 90-minute live show every night, including a one map CS:GO match between the two teams, and airing it all synchronized on various platforms (Twitch, YouTube, Viafree) at the same time.

The biggest challenge was to integrate the different technical parts – the worlds of gaming and TV.

But it went well… We now have a unique knowledge of how to combine live reality and gaming in a reliable and professional setup model.

Fredrik Ivansson, CEO of Gamingzone Entertainment, said there are plans for a European version of the format in the fall. What is next for Gamerz?
Exactly, we are already now in pre-production for our European edition this fall. Talents can already now apply on our portal for a chance in the series.

Would Gamerz work on traditional TV?
Yes and No. It depends a bit where in the world and the digital revolution in each area.

It's not a traditional "passive" TV content, scheduled  once a week. It’s live, every day and a lot of interactivity and features customized for digital platforms.  And the most important – the target group is used to watching content on the digital platforms. We are where the viewers are.

Are eSports moving from niche to mainstream? Can eSports become the new “comics” in popular culture for the younger demos?

I don’t really know. But for sure, It has become a better understanding for its greatness and the thrill in actually watching other people playing (especially good ones) instead of just playing by yourself. It´s still a very large male skewed group but the females are increasing all the time.

Do you think that VR, AR and success stories like this of gamer-turned-musician Alan Walker can potentially promote gaming and eSports to larger audiences?
Yes, VR, AR and gaming and eSports are growing together. We already now see gaming and AR have success. And it will grow.

You have years of experience in television producing premium formats and developing new ideas for Zodiak and Endemol. In your opinion, are linear and digital two completely different worlds?
No they are not totally different. The thing is that both rely on the quality of the content.

Quality is always quality, and crap is always crap, wherever it’s served. But how you present and package the content can be a lot different. Digital is not only short shaky and weird underground YouTube clips, or some streamer facing the webcam, it’s just some content that has found its niche in the digital windows. More expensive “quality” content, series and events also fit it. Very well actually. The problem as well as the opportunities is that the distribution has been very democratic. You need to come out, to go through the “massive wall of content”. You need to be popular and liked to be popular and liked – chicken or hen. But if you make it, it’s a worldwide audience if you promote non language barrier content (English for example).

The linear distribution will not die out. But it’s old-fashioned and works better in my opinion with big live events that create a lot of attention, like the Superbowl or the Eurovision Song Contest.

Series, reality or scripted will fit much better on a digital platform, especially if it’s global content.

The biggest challenge for traditional broadcasters is not the fact that their business model still relies on their linear programming (even if it’s old-fashioned, and is a problem), the main problem in many countries is the language. That they create and distribute local language content and series. It´s not wrong, it’s actually good from a “recognition perspective”, but it’s expensive and narrows the audience. Every minute a day, they are challenged from all around the world by the most popular and expensive (and cheap) content. Viewers are not patriotic, not loyal, they watch what they find interesting and entertaining. No matter if it’s in Swedish or in English, produced in Stockholm or in Chicago.▪
Robert is the co-founder, partner and Creative Director and Head of Development for Gamingzone Entertainment which is International Format Group’s eSports company. Robert has been in the TV industry for over 20 years as Creative Director at companies like Zodiak and Endemol, as well as producer for shows like Idols, Big Brother, Dancing with the Stars, The Money Drop, Paradise Hotel, Survivor, etc. He has been developing and writing new formats for 15 years.
Gamerz ( is the world’s first eSports reality series and a unique opportunity for gaming talent in CS:GO to become eSport professionals. 12 great talents live in the Gamerz House where they will, with professional help, be drilled to maximize their abilities. These talents are tested and challenged daily in live broadcasts of matches and challenges. Anything can happen and no one is secure on their way towards the final objective where five lucky winners will be awarded a six- month professional contract. Gamerz was produced by Gaming Zone Entertainment with BBH delivering the technical solution for the production.
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