Update: Riot Games issued a statement to Engadget saying the report was "false" and that there are no current negotiations between the sides.
In addition, ESPN gave The Rift Herald the following statement:
"The story is false. We do not have a deal with Riot Games to broadcast League of Legends."
ORIGINAL STORY: It was always a matter of when, not if we would see esports regularly on ESPN -- and it appears that time is drawing closer. The world's biggest sports network is reportedly in negotiations with Riot Games to broadcast the LCS for a staggering $500 million.
The report from PvP Live is citing sources close to the negotiations in its report. This move that shouldn't stun anyone who has been paying close attention to esports over the last five years, but the dollar amount being thrown around is the real eye-opener. $500 million viewing rights puts League of Legends up with other major sport leagues, depending on the terms of the contract. It's unclear at this time whether negotiations would be for just the NALCS or whether Europe would be included in the deal.
Currently College Football playoff rights are costing ESPN just over $600 million per year, while split rights for ESPN and ABC to broadcast the NBA were sold for $2.4 billion. Obviously those are two of the biggest sports in the USA, but it puts League of Legends in the conversation -- and that is what's fascinating about the report.
It remains to be seen how the rights are worded and whether a switch to ESPN could cannibalize current broadcast partners online. The LCS accounts for almost 23 million hours of viewing time per week across YouTube, Twitch and LOL esports.