Chess.com has become the first company to acquire broadcast rights for the 2021 FIDE World Championship Match. The company, based in Palo Alto, California, will be an official broadcast partner for what is set to be the biggest global chess event of recent decades.
The groundbreaking agreement between Chess.com and FIDE will bring the world chess championship to a wider audience than ever before. As the world's biggest online chess platform, Chess.com has been the leading broadcaster of the board game in recent years, in partnership with streaming platform Twitch.
Held every two years, the FIDE World Championship Match is by far the most important event for the sport. As the final stage of a long world championship cycle, it is also the most popular: the last title match, held in 2018, was followed by dozens of millions of fans around the globe.
"We are truly excited about the prospects of the 2021 World Championship Match, and this agreement is a first step towards making it a great success", said FIDE President, Arkady Dvorkovich. "The popularity of chess is on the rise: more and more people devote more time to playing the game than ever before. Chess has always been an exciting and popular game, but now it is also much more accessible, and Chess.com contributed a great deal to that, bringing chess to a whole new audience. We are confident that this will be the most followed World Championship match of recent decades."
Chess.com will broadcast its official coverage across multiple platforms in the world's most popular languages, featuring commentary from some of the biggest names in chess and entertainment.
"FIDE has been one of Chess.com's most important partners during the pandemic, helping to bring millions of new players to chess by working with us on some of the world's most important events," said Chess.com's Director of Business Development, Nick Barton. "Chess is experiencing historic growth and we've been humbled by the sheer volume of new players from around the world who are finding joy playing on our site each day. This broadcast partnership provides us the opportunity to continue our mission of making chess fun and accessible for everyone."
With its unofficial coverage of the 2018 world championship, Chess.com reached 3.4 million unique viewers. The record-breaking coverage of this year's Pogchamps event saw even higher per-day unique viewers.
The FIDE World Championship Match is planned to be held in the fall of 2021. It will be played between reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen and the winner of the 2020 Candidates tournament.
In addition to the championship, Chess.com has also acquired broadcast rights for the next two Candidates tournaments. The first is scheduled for the spring of 2021 and entails the second half of the 2020 tournament, which was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The next Candidates tournament is scheduled for 2022.