Activision Blizzard has brought on former ESPN and NFL Network CEO Steve Bornstein, as well as Major League Gaming Co-Founder Mike Sepso to run a new esports division. Bornstein will serve as chairman, while Sepso takes the role of senior vice president.
The esports division of Activision Blizzard is as of yet unnamed. And no one who is involved has gone public with the goal of the esports division. It will be a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Brian Crecente of Polygon says in his interview with Bornstein and Sepso.
Activision Blizzard, which makes some of the most popular esports games, has been stepping up their presence in the esports community lately. The division could serve to support things like the Call of Duty World League, which will begin in January, as well as Blizzard’s official tournaments for games like Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm.
Details on the division’s purpose are on the way.
“Last year, Activision Blizzard created entertainment that was viewed and played by over 150 million people for more than 13 billion hours—this dwarfs the engagement that fans spend on all other sports,” said Bornstein. “I believe esports will rival the biggest traditional sports leagues in terms of future opportunities, and between advertising, ticket sales, licensing, sponsorships and merchandising, there are tremendous growth areas for this nascent industry.”
It’s true that esports engagement and viewership is incredibly high, with events like the League of Legends World Championships drawing millions of viewers, and millions of sponsorship dollars. In games like Starcraft II and Hearthstone, Blizzard has some very competitive esports titles under its roof.
ESPN has been more active in broadcasting esports this past year, and organized efforts by Activision Blizzard will definitely impact the television presence of esports.