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Activision Blizzard Acquires Major League Gaming ‘to Create the ESPN of E-Sports’

Gaming mainstay Activision Blizzard Inc. has acquired Major League Gaming, a leading company in the creation and online streaming of competitive gaming events.

Activision Blizzard said the purchase for a reported $46 million marked an important step toward its goal: “to bring e-sports into the mainstream by creating and broadcasting premium e-sports content, organizing global league play and expanding distribution with key gaming partners.”

“Our acquisition of Major League Gaming’s business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of e-sports,” said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. “MLG’s ability to create premium content and its proven broadcast technology platform — including its live streaming capabilities — strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming.”

The union of the two companies represents an expansion in the effort to make one-time video nerds into recognizable performers. MLG co-founder and CEO Sundance DiGiovanni said the business of promoting online gaming “is at a key inflection point, as its popularity soars and rivals that of many traditional professional sports.”

MLG will keep operating the MLG.tv, MLG Pro Circuit and GameBattles platforms, the latter of which is the largest online gaming tournament system across several platforms. In announcing the deal, Activision Blizzard said e-sports have more than 100 million unique viewers and that e-sports are projected to have over 300 million viewers by 2017.

According to eSports Observer, Activision Blizzard got a large majority of MLG’s assets in exchange for $46 million. The gaming company did not provide details of the terms of the deal.

The publicly-traded, Santa Monica-based company produces popular games, including “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft,” “Guitar Hero” and “Skylanders.” The company announced in November that it was creating its own movie and TV studio to bring more of its gaming franchises to small and big screens.

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