By Hilary Russ
NEW YORK, April 16 () - Microsoft Corp said on Tuesday its Xbox Game Studios will partner with Turner Sports' ELEAGUE to produce a documentary series about "Gears of War" players in conjunction with a new version of the video game launching later this year.
The series will feature six hour-long programs focusing on the new game, called Gears 5, and the lives of its star players from around the globe. It will debut June 14 on Turner's TBS network.
Esports fans watch live video game tournaments online as well as in packed stadiums.
In July, ELEAGUE will also host the first-ever Gears 5 esports tournament and reveal its first multiplayer mode in action, with coverage streamed on Twitch and Bleacher Report Live. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
For Turner, the partnership is another opportunity to serve its sports and entertainment audience while also reaching new segments of the ballooning gaming viewership.
"The audience is the most coveted demographic in the media landscape," Craig Barry, chief content officer for Turner Sports, told . "We know they're out there, we know they're engaged. No one's really cracked the code yet."
Esports fans are younger, more interactive and often more affluent than other sports audiences.
Global esports revenues will grow nearly 27 percent to $1.1 billion this year, according to Newzoo research.
Those numbers include all aspects of the industry, so ELEAGUE is targeting a smaller slice with Gears.
Gears - developed by The Coalition, a studio within Microsoft's gaming business - has particularly impassioned fans, said Rose Gunson, program manager for Gears of War at Microsoft.
"Our players are very engaging, they have huge personalities. They are very interesting to watch," Gunson said.
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