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Courtesy of Lionsgate

Lionsgate has invested an undisclosed amount of funding into the eSports franchise The Immortals as part of its strategy of expanding into the fast-growing arena.

Lionsgate announced the investment Tuesday. Other investors in The Immortals include financier Michael Milken; Steve Kaplan, co-founder of Oaktree Capital and co-owner of The Memphis Grizzlies and the Premier League’s Swansea City; investor Gregory Milken; Third Wave entrepreneur Allen DeBevoise; and CrossCut Ventures.

Lionsgate said The Immortals attracts 200 million fans in League of Legends, Counterstrike GO, Overwatch and Super Smash Brothers. It said the eSports market is projected to grow to over $1 billion by the end of next year.

“We’re delighted to be an early mover in a market that has the potential to transform the face of sports entertainment,” said Lionsgate President of Interactive Ventures & Games Peter Levin. “Our involvement in eSports creates tremendous opportunities to develop new content and utilize our suite of distribution platforms for a coveted consumer demographic with compelling engagement metrics.  Collaborating with an elite group of partners, the combination of the Lionsgate and Immortals brands will be formidable.”

The company noted its previous investments include Pilgrim Media Group, in which Lionsgate is a majority investor, partnering with promoter ESL to create original eSports entertainment content for television and digital platforms. Their first collaboration, in partnership with Microsoft, will be centered around the Halo gaming brand. Lionsgate was also an early investor in live streaming mobile gaming platform Mobcrush.

“Lionsgate joins a dream team of media, tech and traditional sports partners who share our vision of building a dynamic Immortals organization and a strong e-sports foundation,” said Immortals Chairman and CrossCut Ventures Managing Director Clinton Foy. “What we’re doing today in eSports is like the early days of building the NFL and NBA. It’s not the evolution of games – it’s the evolution of sports, technology and media.”

Immortals CEO Noah Whinston said in a statement, “Lionsgate is the perfect entrepreneurial partner for our Immortals family. Immortals and Lionsgate are both focused on developing new entertainment formats, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with them at the cutting edge of eSports media.”

The announcement comes a day after Lionsgate announced it has signed a three-film deal with The Onion  in what’s the first venture into movies for the satirical brand.

Lionsgate is home to the “Hunger Games” and “Twilight” franchises, along with awards season contenders “La La Land” and “Patriots Day.” It closed its acquisition of premium cable network Starz last month.

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