Activision Blizzard hopes to establish ‘the ESPN of eSports’ with MLG purchase

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Video game publisher Activision Blizzard announced that it has acquired the business assets of Major League Gaming, a purchase that the company says will “serve as the foundation for Activision Blizzard’s eSports broadcast network.”

Major League Gaming operates the MLG.tv and MLG Pro Circuit platforms, along with the GameBattles framework, which the company describes as “the largest online gaming tournament system across consoles, PC and mobile platforms.”

A letter sent to stockholders last week revealed that Activision Blizzard’s MLG purchase weighs in at $46 million. The terms of the acquisition reportedly entailed a “corporate action taken without a stockholders’ meeting by less than unanimous written consent of our stockholders,” according to eSports Observer.

Former MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni stepped down from his role as part of the acquisition. MLG’s new CEO is Greg Chisholm, who previously served as the company’s CFO. Activision Blizzard notes that the purchase will bolster its Media Networks division, which is helmed by former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein and MLG’s co-founder Mike Sepso.

“Our acquisition of Major League Gaming’s business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of eSports,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick stated. “MLG’s ability to create premium content and its proven broadcast technology platform – including its live streaming capabilities – strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming.”

Kotick continued: “MLG has an incredibly strong and seasoned team and a thriving community. Together, we will create new ways to celebrate players and their unique skills, dedication and commitment to gaming.”

Activision Blizzard’s eSports industry buy-in follows up on the recent launch of a dedicated Competitive Gaming Division at rival publisher Electronic Arts, enabling global broadcasts and competitions featuring EA’s popular FIFA, Madden NFL, Battlefield franchises.

Multiple publishers and entertainment networks have tapped the blossoming eSports market in recent months. TBS announced that it will air a full season of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament play in 2016, while Disney recently produced a pair of televised specials featuring Nintendo’s games.

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