As the popularity of e-sports continues to grow and grow, Activision Blizzard have announced a new division devoted solely to competitive gaming. Former CEO of ESPN and the NFL Network Steve Bornstein will take the reins as chairman and he’ll be joined by the co-founder of Major League Gaming Mike Sepso, who’ll take on the role of senior vice president.
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Recently, Activision Blizzard have been ramping up their e-sports interest, thus this latest announcement was likely a matter of when, not if. The new, better-structured CoD league which is set to delay the Call of Duty Championships next year is probably the most notable of such recent efforts, but the publishers have also been busy hosting semi-regular Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone and Starcraft II tournaments all over the US, and beyond, of late.
In a pre-prepared statement, Bornstein had this to say of the new initiative: “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.
He continued: “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. I’m excited to help Activision Blizzard further its leadership position in this exciting growth area.”
Broadening the appeal of e-sports is something League of Legends developers Riot Games have turned their focus to recently. Are they going about it the right way?