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Swedish television primed for weekend of live e-sports

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Swedish television primed for weekend of live e-sports
16:30 CET+01:00
In an unprecedented move, Swedish public television will provide viewers with live, web-based broadcasts from the Dreamhack computer gaming convention, which kicks off this Thursday in Jönköping in southern Sweden.

“We've wanted to do this for several years,” Sveriges Television (SVT) project leader Leonard Wallentin told The Local.

“Computer gaming is no longer a small subculture, but has really transformed into a mass movement. A huge number of young people in Sweden play computer games every day, and as a public broadcaster we need to try to serve that audience.”

Dreamhack, which bills itself as “the world's largest LAN-party and computer festival”, registered more than 12,000 visitors at last winter's event and features a mix of computer gaming tournaments, exhibitions, and seminars.

In order to broadcast from the event, SVT plans to erect an on-site studio in the Jönköping convention centre where Dreamhack is held.

Former Swedish and World Champion Counter Strike player Miguel Bonett will serve as the programme's primary host, conducting interviews and providing expert commentary.

The highlight of the broadcasts, set to take place on Friday and Saturday, will be the finals of e-sport competitions in the World of Warcraft, Counter Strike, Street Fighter, and Quake computer games.

“The idea is to have things look very much like any other broadcast from a sporting event,” Wallentin explained.

“We'll have a mix of live studio interviews, pre-recorded video clips, as well as scenes from the competitions themselves.”

He added that when broadcasting the computer game finals, SVT will do its best to help viewers feel like they are a part of the action.

“There will actually be shots from inside the games themselves,” he said

“The production will shift from the virtual world to the real world, with in-game views spliced with shots of the players.”

The web-based Dreamhack broadcasts will also allow SVT to beta-test a new webcasting technology that the station hopes will allow it to send higher quality video to more viewers.

The technology relies on a P2P distribution network, which utilizes viewers' free bandwidth to send SVT's video stream on to other viewers nearby.

While SVT has no plans to start broadcasting e-sport competitions on regular television, Wallentin said the station would consider doing so if interest is large enough.

But for now, no one is sure of exactly how many viewers may tune in to the Dreamhack webcast.

“That's a good question. It's hard to know because we've never done this before,” said Wallentin.

“This is the first time a public broadcaster in Sweden has ever done something like this.”

He added, however, that the station expects interest from well-beyond Sweden's borders.

“But for now, the broadcast will primarily be in Swedish,” he said, adding that SVT may consider providing more content in English in the future if there is enough interest from abroad.

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