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Esports and Beyond: Behind the Scenes at Dignitas's New Media-Production Facility

19/11/2019

Esports and Beyond: Behind the Scenes at Dignitas's New Media-Production Facility Plans call for creation of original pop-culture, entertainment, and other content By Jason Dachman, Chief Editor

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - 10:37 am

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Few esports organizations have made as sizable a commitment to the content-creation game as Dignitas, which launched a 3,000-sq.-ft. media-production facility in Newark, NJ, over the summer. Although Dignitas has made its name in esports, the original content churned out of this facility runs the gamut from esports and gaming to pop culture and entertainment to music and lifestyle - and beyond.

Dignitas's new media-production facility is adjacent to the Prudential Center in Newark.

The way I see it, we're not in the esports business; we're actually in the digital-sports and -entertainment business, says Dignitas CEO Michael Prindiville. Clearly, esports is extremely important to us with our competitive teams, but the entertainment side is just as important. We are trying to figure out the best, most authentic way to reach this young demographic, where these eyeballs are focused on not just esports and gaming but also pop culture, music, and traditional sports.

Dignitas: An Organization on the Rise

Since launching in 2003, Dignitas has gradually worked its way into the upper echelon of esports organizations, now fielding seven esports teams, including squads for League of Legends, World Champion Rocket League, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).

In 2016, Dignitas was purchased by the Philadelphia 76ers and is now under the ownership of Sixers parent Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment (HBSE), the New Jersey Devils, and Prudential Center. In June, Dignitas made an industry-shaking deal when it merged with the Houston Rockets'-owned Clutch Gaming, absorbing Clutch's League of Legends team and creating what it calls a gaming-centric media and entertainment company.

The new facility features a pro-gaming space outfitted with high-end gaming PC's and consoles.

Although the Clutch Gaming deal drew plenty of headlines in the esports community, Dignitas made plenty of other news over the summer as well. In addition to launching the media-production center in Newark, the company signed an exclusive multiyear deal with social-broadcasting platform Caffeine, which now serves as the home for all official Dignitas team-focused live-streaming content.

With our ownership group having Prudential Center right here, it made a lot of sense to locate [the media center] here in Newark, says Prindiville. Once we decided on the location, we started looking at what we would need from a capability and technology standpoint to build our teams' brands and create compelling content. With our [facility] here and the Caffeine partnership, we feel like we're on the right path now.

Inside the Studio: Content Creation All About Authenticity

Located in a Dignitas-branded storefront next to the Prudential Center, the Newark facility features a 500-sq.-ft. 4K-capable content studio (presented by Caffeine TV), as well as two soundproof live-streaming and recording pods. The facility also houses a professional gaming space outfitted with six high-end gaming PCs, various consoles, and other equipment, as well as a players lounge.

Inside Dignitas's media-production facility, which launched over the summer.

We want to do as many live shows and as much live programming as possible out of this studio, says Prindiville. At this point, the studio is fired up four to five hours a day, and that is only going to grow. We're also constantly trying to figure out new ways to integrate with HBSE and leverage [events at] the Prudential Center to increase the megaphone around esports and gaming.

The content studio is equipped with a 2M/E Blackmagic Design ATEM 4K switcher and two Blackmagic Design Micro Studio 4K cameras (along with several GoPros). All live 1080p60 broadcasts are streamed to Caffeine and encoded via OBS (open broadcaster software) and also recorded onto SD cards. The facility also has plenty of connectivity, thanks to a high-speed fiber mesh network provided by the city of Newark.

We're still improving the studio, and I would say it's about 70% complete, says Dignitas Director of Media Matt Kline. Building around the Blackmagic workflow has been pretty fantastic and also very cost-effective.

All About Authenticity: Content That Resonates With Fans

Prindiville recruited Kline - a veteran of MLG, ESL, and Mashable - to build out the production operation from scratch. The production team now counts five full-time camera-operator/producer/editors on its staff and is streaming six original shows (on average) per week on Caffeine featuring Dignitas teams and influencers.

We knew it was important to create a team who really understood this space, says Kline. One of the keys for esports is to have that authentic feeling in order to give fans a place to explore their passion. That's definitely what we've done here. We have several people, including myself, who have a very long history in esports and understand what this community is all about. We understand what these fans really enjoy, and, if you're going to bring value to your sponsors and fans, you need to create that authentic experience.

Dignitas is focused on creating three pillars of content: live-streamed content on Caffeine, VOD content on YouTube and other short-form-video platforms, and cutdown content that can be posted on various social channels. Kline says the three categories feed each another, creating a flywheel of content.

The content studio inside Dignitas's Newark facility is used to produce a variety of daily content that goes beyond just esports.

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