Activision Expands into eSports with MLG Acquisition

Published January 14, 2016 by Lee R

Activision Expands into eSports with MLG Acquisition

Already active in eSports marketing, now Activision looks to be taking a dominant position.

The trend towards eSports just added a significant player. Activision Blizzard, best known for publishing Call of Duty, has now acquired the prominent eSports veteran organiser Major League Gaming (MLG) for $46m.

Terms of the Deal

The deal will provide Activision with full access to MLG holdings including its prized content streaming platform, live gaming events and competitive gaming leagues. Activision also takes hold of MLGtv, the company's online eSports channel watched by a reported 20 million viewers per month.

Activision Blizzard chief executive Bobby Kotick released a statement of his company's goal of creating “the ESPN of eSports.” Ironically, ESPN is of late increasing its coverage of eSports events as well.

Kotik cited the prime value of the deal as “MLG’s ability to create premium content and its proven broadcast technology platform – including its live streaming capabilities.”

Activision's New Entry

Activision formed its eSports division just last October, appointing MLG co-founder Mike Sepso and former ESPN chief Steve Bornstein to run it. The other MLG co-founder, Sundance DiGiovanni, will also join Activision.

The eSports Background

The emergence of the eSports industry has been accelerating since its inception in the mid-90s, with upwards of 130 million people now streaming eSports tournaments and events worldwide. The most popular eSports League of Legends and Dota 2 generate live events which have been selling out large sports stadiums.

The eSports trend has been only growing bigger as a result of entry from corporate heavyweights such as Activision, while betting on eSports betting has become popular at online sports books such as bet365, Winner and Real Deal Bet.

History of Activision Involvement

Activision's foray into professional gaming can be charted over the last five years.

The company's Starcraft strategy pioneered the growth of eSports and pro gaming during the 2000s, fueled specifically through growth in South Korea where it became a veritable national sport. Today, Activision hosts yearly Call of Duty and Hearthstone world championships which have huge follower bases.

Impact on eSports

The value of eSports currently lies with creating dedicated and enthusiastic communities around the titles themselves, and the Activision deal will provide healthy investment and technology to solidify brand association for its existing titles as well as those it inherits from MLG.

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