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Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick says he’s bigger than Netflix, predicts eSports will eclipse NFL and NBA

Bobby Kotick

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick says that his company is five times bigger than streaming giant Netflix, as part of a bullish statement about the size and heft of gaming audiences.

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Kotick was speaking a Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit yesterday, sharing a panel with Leslie Moonves, chairman and CEO of US cable channel CBS. His boast is based on a claim that 125 million players watch gaming, and that Activision Blizzard, between all its products, has 500 million monthly active users in 196 countries. On their website, Netflix claims a “feeble” 86 million members (which isn’t the same as monthly active users).

The comparison is a little odd – streaming TV is not the same as playing a game of Overwatch – but Kotick’s broader point is that this audience can be leveraged in ways that we’re yet to see, and which could overlap with the territory of broadcasters like Netflix and even major US sports leagues.

“If you think about our players,” says Kotick, “take Call of Duty, we have 40 million monthly active users – these people are spending hours of their day playing a game, an organised competition – that’s the same size as the preseason NFL… These leagues like Call of Duty or Overwatch have the potential to be the next NFL or NBA.”

When asked, Kotick said he expects to be negotiating with US cable networks about broadcasting rights to Activision games. For now, these are televised via MLG, which Activision bought last year. “If Leslie or ESPN wants to pay for the rights, a greater amount, [than] we can monetise on our own channel, we’ll take that.”

It remains a bold prediction to make – that eSports will one day match or eclipse conventional sports, either in audience size or rights prices – but numbers don’t lie.

Thanks to AdWeek.