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DIRECTV Unleashes Global Gaming Phenomenon to More Than 100 Million Homes Worldwide with Championship Gaming Series

Fatal1ty Trades in Mouse for Microphone as Exclusive Commentator

For DIRECTV's Internationally Televised Video Gaming League

LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 8, 2007--DIRECTV, the nation's leading satellite television service provider, announced today at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show that it is taking the sports entertainment world by storm with launch of the Championship Gaming Series, an international video gaming league which will broadcast to over 100 million homes worldwide starting in Spring 2007 and airing nationally on DIRECTV's The 101. The Series, which was originally announced last year, will expand to feature teams from North America, Latin America, United Kingdom, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Australia as the world's top pro gamers battle in cyber-space for the international title and over $1 million in prize money.

DIRECTV is in final discussions with global entertainment giants British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) and STAR Asia, among others, to build an international network and to broadcast the Championship Gaming Series. In addition to international televised distribution, the series will partner with Internet powerhouse IGN Entertainment, a unit of Fox Interactive Media, to provide online coverage, creating a multi-platform opportunity to bring gaming to the masses. Gaming legend Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel will capture the action as the exclusive play-by-play commentator and global league spokesperson and advisor. With a roster of the best pro gamers in the world, unparalleled production values and best-in-class televised sports-style coverage, the series will be the dominant force in professional gaming worldwide.

The series will take the exploding phenomenon of professional gaming to the next level with high-definition televised league play using advanced technology to take viewers inside the games themselves. For the first time in the history of the sport, team members who qualify for the Championship Gaming Series will be drafted by franchises and paid salaries as full-time pro gamers. Team franchises will be led by salaried General Managers, who are established leaders in competitive gaming.

"We couldn't help but notice that gaming had actually become a sport. Not only in the way the gamers created teams to compete, but also in their conditioning and mind set and dedication while playing. So it wasn't a quantum leap to then determine if it was becoming a sport, we should cover it like a sport, said David Hill, President, DIRECTV Entertainment. "The reaction to our first production, the Championship Gaming Invitational, was little short of phenomenal, so it was a no-brainer to take this next logical step to create the series. We believe the combination of a world wide broadcast platform, coupled with forward thinking partners like Mountain Dew, will create a brand new sport which is truly universal. Championship Gaming Series has the potential to become the next soccer in terms of world wide appeal."

The series will employ industry giants to transform the game action into compelling television for both gamers and non-gamers alike. Fatal1ty, who after dominating the sport for seven years, will take on a new role as exclusive play-by-play commentator for the Series. Eleven-time Emmy Award-winner Mike Burks will control multiple high-definition cameras, as well as virtual cameras to cover all the action, both on and off the playing field. With its unparalleled production value and televised sports-style coverage, the Championship Gaming Series will set the standard for professional gaming competitions worldwide.

"DIRECTV really understands the nature of gaming and has figured out how to turn the sport I love into something that gamers and non-gamers will enjoy on television," said Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel. "I can't wait to take over the microphone and play such an important role in the evolution and expansion competitive video gaming. Championship Gaming Series is going to be the best platform for aspiring gamers to realize what it takes to become an international gaming champion."

"We are excited about the Championship Gaming Series and look forward to becoming the lead gaming and broadcast partner for the Series in the UK and Ireland. Gaming fits squarely into Sky's strategy for providing an unmatched in-home entertainment experience and we look forward to moving ahead with the project," comments James Baker, Managing Director of Sky Networked Media.

Championship Gaming Series will be structurally based in five regions around the world - North America, Latin America, UK, Europe and Australia/Asia/Middle East. Each region will host online qualifiers and live tournament events to determine the teams which will represent each area. From those competitions, twelve champion teams will emerge and compete in the league's Grand Slam round. Grand Slam winners, both individuals and teams, will advance to the Championship Gaming Series World Championship, which will be hosted in the United States.

"The Championship Gaming Series has the potential to transform the professional gaming industry," said Frank Cooper, vice president, flavored soft drinks, Pepsi-Cola North America. "As a founding partner of the series, Mountain Dew sees this as a unique opportunity to redefine our role in the world of gaming, supporting a unique initiative that enables gaming enthusiasts get closer to the latest technology."

Championship Gaming Series teams will consist of squads dedicated to playing specific game genres, including racing, fighting, action/adventure/strategy and first person shooters. In the United States, the series will have six regional teams comprised of the best players in each gaming genre.

DIRECTV's first U.S. Championship Gaming Invitational (CGI), which aired in July of 2006, was held in a 16,000-square-foot airplane hanger, at the former Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco. Competitors faced off in games such as Electronic Arts(TM) Battlefield 2(TM), Microsoft Game Studio's(TM) Project Gotham Racing(R) 3 and Halo(R) 2, for prizes and instant money payouts. First prize winners included complexity, 20ID, Jason "FiddyownsU" Hodges, Joe "Phantom Hitman" Tackett and Emmanuel "MASTER" Rodriguez. The second CGI took place at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, CA on December 16 and will premiere on DIRECTV's The 101 in February, 2007.

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Why do I think this will go the way of the D* dating service?

I know I get made fun of for watching cars go around in circles, but are substantial numbers of viewers going to watch people play games?
 

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In th US, I'm not sure, but you'd be surprised. It's huge in the Asian countries. I was watching something on either Discovery HD Theater or InHD and completive gaming is soaring in popularity, companies pay millions and millions of dollars to sponsor gaming teams. And yes quite a bit of people do watch and cheer, surprisingly enough.
 
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