By Barry Janoff
May 12, 2016: Activision Blizzard, already a major player in the burgeoning eSports landscape, is making another significant inroad with the launch of new content, broadcast experiences and distribution partnerships for its Major League Gaming MLG.tv streaming platform, an ad-friendly network dedicated to the"thrill of competition and the passion of the fans."
The network, under the auspices of Activision Blizzard Media Networks, will include highlights, interviews, "eSports Report" news segments, match statistics, updated leader boards and insights on current competitions targeting "a new generation of sports fans."
“We’re building a network dedicated to the thrill of competition and the passion of the fans,” Steve Bornstein, chairman for ABMN, told an audience at the IAB Digital Content NewFronts 2016 in New York on Thursday (May 12). “MLG.tv will play a defining role in realizing the full potential of this audience by creating meaningful, memorable and shareable content.”
ABMN said it would launch the network content during the MLG Anaheim Open Call of Duty: Black Ops III tournament scheduled for June 10-12.
The launch will be part of a "deeper collaboration" with Facebook that would allow MLG.tv to broadcast live competitions and deliver eSports Report content to the platform's 1.6 billion users, according to Activision Blizzard.
"Esports is a cultural phenomenon at its tipping point, and we’re excited to work with the IAB to bring this message directly to advertisers as part of the 2016 Digital Content NewFronts,” said Mike Sepso, svp for ABMN.
“The size of our digital network, coupled with our insights into this audience’s viewing habits, put us in a unique position to educate the advertising industry on how to safely target these viewers and reach them on their platform of choice," said Sepso.
According to Dan Reed, head of global sports partnerships for Facebook, “eSports is an exciting space and continues to be a growing priority for us,. “With over 1.6 billion people on the platform and a growing suite of VOD and live streaming products that partners can use to increase engagement, Facebook is uniquely positioned to help esports fans connect around exciting moments and great eSports content.
eSports is in the throes of a growth boom, including the development and growth of tournaments from the likes of EA, Microsoft, Activision and this month the launch of the nationally televised eLeague from Turner Sports and WME | IMG; and media coverage from such companies as ESPN, Fox Sports, Yahoo, SkySports and the BBC.
According to a new report from NewZoo, San Francisco, a research, consulting and information firm that covers the industry, the average awareness of eSports among gamers worldwide is 65.7% up from 53.7% last year. NewZoo said that eSports would be a $2 billion category in the next few years.
More than 1 billion people will know something about the eSports category by the end of this year, up some 36% over 2015, according to NewZoo's latest Global eSports Market Report.
The MLG Anaheim Open will feature upward of 96 amateur teams and 12 North American Call of Duty World League teams competing head-to-head in Call of Duty: Black Ops III on PlayStation 4 for a $100,000 prize pool and 10,000 Call of Duty World League Pro Points.
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