Torque Esports Corp begins trading as Engine Media Holdings – combining with Frankly Media and WinView
– Media, sports, entertainment and telecommunications executive Hank Ratner brings added experience to Engine Media board
TORONTO, Aug. 13, 2020 /CNW/ — Torque Esports Corp has begun trading as Engine Media Holdings Inc. (TSX-V: GAME) (OTCQB: MLLLF) – bringing together the three-way combination which also includes Frankly Media and WinView Games.
Engine Media (“Engine” or the “Company” formerly Torque Esports Corp.) is a multi-platform media group leading the charge in esports, news streaming and gaming. The completion of the merger, originally announced in March of this year, brings together a unique combination of esports content, streaming technology, gaming platforms, data analytics and intellectual property.
Engine Media is focused on new, live, and immersive esports and interactive gaming experiences through partnerships with traditional and emerging media companies.
Combined, Engine Media has partnered with more than 1,200 television, print and radio brands including CNN, ESPN, Discovery / Eurosport, Fox, Vice, Newsweek, and Cumulus; dozens of gaming and technology companies including EA, Activision, Blizzard, Take2Interactive, Microsoft, Google, Twitch, and Ubisoft; and has connectivity into hundreds of millions of homes around the world through content, distribution, and technology.
At an annual and special meeting of shareholders held on July 15, 2020, Engine’s shareholders voted to elect the new board of directors for the newly renamed Engine Media Holdings:
- Media/technology industry veteran, founder of CNBC and long time CEO of TiVo, Tom Rogers (Engine Media executive chairman)
- Engine Media co-CEOs Lou Schwartz and Darren Cox
- Former Torque Esports board members Bryan Reyhani and Peter Liabotis
- Former Frankly board member Steven Zenz
- Media, sports, entertainment and telecommunications executive and former WinView board member, Hank Ratner
Ratner was previously president and CEO of The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), vice chairman of Cablevision Systems Corporation; chief operating officer of AMC Networks (formerly Rainbow Media) and president and CEO of Independent Sports and Entertainment (ISE). He is president and CEO of Ratner Ventures and on the boards of MSG Networks, GF Sports and Entertainment and Garden of Dreams Foundation.
The New York native now brings his extensive industry experience to the world of esports with Engine Media.
HANK RATNER Q&A
Q: What was the attraction of joining the Engine Media board of directors?
A: “After many years in the sports, entertainment, media, and technology industries, I thought it was an excellent opportunity to get involved in an early stage company with tremendous growth prospects and take advantage of my prior experiences.
“Esports participation and viewership has been growing for some time and the pandemic has further accelerated that growth.
“Engine Media is in a great starting position with outstanding reach and a broad audience; our opportunity is how to best serve our customers and monetize that relationship.
“Engine Media Chairman Tom Rogers and I have been friends and colleagues in the media industry for a long time and were both early investors in WinView, which is now part of the Engine group of companies.
“We partnered as Co-Chairmen at WinView in 2016 and Engine is a logical extension post merger.”
Q: The esports industry is very crowded already. How does Engine Media compare to many of the new companies and start-ups entering the market?
A: “What made joining Engine very attractive was the fact that the company and its diverse range of brands have so many key touch points in the esports industry.
“UMG is an outstanding gaming and broadcast platform that not only stages great online events with major gaming studio partners, but the gaming entertainment content on UMG.tv is really helping to expand that audience.
“Frankly Media has incredible expertise in digitization and has key relationships with major broadcasters and print publications.
“WinView’s platform for online games of skill, running in conjunction with both real sports and esports broadcasts, also has tremendous potential.
“Data is also a critical component of any business so the market intelligence from the world of gaming streaming from the team at Stream Hatchet is a huge bonus for us.
“And Engine Media is undoubtedly a market leader when it comes to not only racing esports, but real-world motorsport as well.
“Engine has major events like World’s Fastest Gamer, which is not only a great esports competition across multiple platforms but has a brilliant documentary series attached to it that has been shown on major networks like ESPN.
“We have major competitions, television shows, media networks (The Race and WTF1), a simulator manufacturer (Allinsports), and even our own world-class gaming studio (Eden Games).
“What’s so compelling about that is most people drive, not only in the US but everywhere. Engine Media has already developed outstanding car racing based products, titles, and opportunities, and the potential is immense.”
Q: How confident are you in esports as a major entertainment platform?
A: “It is obviously a huge and growing category, and its popularity is immense.
“However, it is still in the early stages of development.
“Recent generations have grown up with video games and are very comfortable with this environment.
“They will continue to interact with gaming as they age so the audience will grow with them as new and younger users come behind.”
Q: Do you see a common thread between what’s happening in television/streaming and esports?
A: “It’s really all about storytelling. American Idol, American Ninja Warrior, Dancing with the Stars – all those programs are competitions, but the glue is the compelling storytelling about the competitors.
“World’s Fastest Gamer is a great example of this. Yes, it’s about finding the gamer who is ready to step into a real life racing environment, but it’s also about relating to the stories of the contestants.
“We aren’t just creating our own content, we help create the stars. We’ve done that in motorsports gaming, but the potential is there to replicate that across other forms of gaming as well. There are so many stories to tell.”
Q: What is the crossover between participating in and watching esports experts/stars play the games?
A: “Our World’s Fastest Gamer program really expands on that – that is the one scenario (unlike NFL football) where you can make the transition from gaming to the real thing.
“Our most recent winner of World’s Fastest Gamer had his first-ever professional race recently and won – that is truly remarkable. This makes us unique. Winners of other esports competitions won’t be able to go on the court or the field to play professionally, much less win.”
“Esports can provide this. The diversification of the media industry with streaming and networks like Twitch has provided incredible opportunities for new streaming stars to come to the fore.
“Again, it comes down to storytelling – and these streaming stars have done it well. The opportunities we have ahead with our own networks, like UMG.tv, are very exciting.
Q: Will esports stars become household names like those in traditional sports?
A: “We’re starting to see that already, and some have broken through including ‘Ninja’.
“We’ve seen the ability for esports to pack arenas for in-person events and we should expect that will continue to expand in the future once we get through the current pandemic era.
“The potential is there for exponential growth, and I think you’ll see more and more ‘names’ make the jump from niche parts of the gaming industry to the mainstream.”
Q: You’ve had enormous experience in running major venues with The Madison Square Garden Company. Can esports share these same major venues or will we see more bespoke esports arenas in the future?
A: “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many esports events taking place at major venues like Madison Square Garden and Staples Center.
“However, there is certainly potential for venue operators to start looking at the specific needs of esports and its potential audience.
“Engine Media is already looking closely at smaller motorsport esports arenas where gamers can race against each other across the globe.
“But it doesn’t have to be just at the elite level. The Top Golf example is certainly interesting. You don’t have to be a brilliant golfer to go and have a night out at Top Golf. The entertainment experience, the food, and beverage, the shared experience with friends – that is certainly something we can look at replicating for the world of esports.”
Q: There’s content everywhere these days – so many available platforms. How do you see that part of the industry progressing and what role can Engine Media play in that development?
A: “To me it feels very similar to how cable TV developed. Initially, people couldn’t understand why they would pay for TV, a service that had been free up until that time.
“Before that, it was BROADcasting – which, by definition, had to have a broad audience.
“Cable made things more niche because there was the availability of a channel for specific interests, such as CNN, ESPN, Bravo, etc.
“We’re now in an age of super-niche products because content can be developed and delivered on-demand to those that are interested in the topic.
“We couldn’t reach those individuals via broadcasting, and they weren’t being served. Now we can and UMG.tv is just one example of this.
“But when the storytelling is done correctly, like we have for World’s Fastest Gamer, we can bring esports gaming to a significantly broader audience, like ESPN, who may never have even considered it as an entertainment option.”