[toc]Activision Blizzard Media Networks (ABMN) is launching “new content, broadcast experiences and distribution partnerships” for its MLG.tv eSports streaming platform.
ABMN is deploying new technology which it calls “Enhanced Viewing Experience” to deliver a high definition video stream that provides viewers with detailed match statistics, real-time leaderboards and “situational insights based on the competition they are watching.”
eSports is at the tipping point
“Esports is a cultural phenomenon at its tipping point,” said Mike Sepso, senior vice president of 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.”
Digital channels now produce 88% of company revenues
Blizzard Activision is the company behind some of the top games in eSports, including World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Hearthstone and Call of Duty.
Last week the company published its first quarter results for 2016. GAAP revenues of $1.46 billion were a new company record and 14 percent up on the $1.28 billion for the first quarter of 2015.
Revenues from digital channels, including MLG.tv, hit an all-time quarterly record of $797 million—on a non-GAAP basis—up 48 percent and represented 88 percent of total revenues.
The report claimed that its games attracted “about 42 billion hours of played and watched time spent over the past twelve months.”
Activision Blizzard takes its relationship with Facebook to the next level
ABMN also announced that it was “deepening” its relationship with Facebook.
The MLG Anaheim Open will be the inaugural eSports competition marking the expanded collaboration. The Call of Duty: Black Ops III tournament begins on June 10, and will be broadcast live to a potential audience of 1.6 billion viewers on Facebook.
Dan Reed, head of global sports partnerships for Facebook commented:
“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.”
In a clarification to Wired magazine, Mike Sepso confirmed that none of their content was going to be locked away behind a paywall:
“We’re really interested in distributing our premium content to anywhere that viewers want to see it.”
eSports broadcasting is coming of age
The expansion of broadcasting by ABMN is in the center of an industry trend to take eSports viewing to a much wider audience.
On May 24, the first Counter Strike: Global Offensive tournaments in Turner and WME-IMG’s newly-formed ELeague will begin broadcasting live on TBS. Turner has built a 10,000 square foot stadium in its Atlanta studios to host the live events.
Not long afterwards, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) will launch its new eSports channel using MTG’s Viasat platform in the Nordic and Baltic countries. Negotiations have already begun to distribute the channel worldwide.