Vlastelica, who officially starts at Activision Blizzard on Oct. 3, will be tasked with growing the company’s eSports broadcast, content and distribution business that revolves around video-game competitions as a spectator sport. He will be based at Activision Blizzard’s Santa Monica, Calif., headquarters and report to COO Thomas Tippl.
“Pete is an entrepreneurial leader with a history of creating inspired content and developing new digital channels of distribution,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement. “As we continue to build MLG into the premier eSports network, Pete will further our mission celebrating the accomplishments of gamers worldwide.”
In January, Activision Blizzard announced the acquisition of MLG. That came after the company last fall established its eSports group, hiring Steve Bornstein, former CEO of ESPN and NFL Network, as chairman and MLG co-founder Mike Sepso as senior VP. Bornstein and Sepso will continue in their roles, with Sepso reporting to Vlastelica, while MLG co-founder Sundance DiGiovanni remains VP of brands and content. MLG’s primary operations will continue to be based in New York City.
“To me Pete is the perfect guy to help us build out the eSports space,” Bornstein said. “What we’re going to try to do is try to make rational sense of the space, how to harness that, and grow it into a significant business.”
Vlastelica, in an interview, said he personally sees eSports as a huge opportunity. “You’re talking about the first digital-native sport,” he said. “It has the potential to be the biggest sport in the world.”
At Fox Sports, Vlastelica has led content, product strategy, mobile, and operations for the company’s portfolio of digital assets, including FoxSports.com, Fox Sports GO, Yardbarker, and WhatIfSports.com. His last day at Fox Sports is Sept. 23.
He joined Fox Sports in 2010 when it acquired Yardbarker, a network of more than 1,000 independent sports blogs that he co-founded in 2006. Prior to that, Vlastelica managed business development for the Walt Disney Internet Group in London and ran business development at Plumb Design, a boutique interactive marketing and design agency in New York City.
MLG was founded in 2002. MLG.tv is a free, ad-supported video-streaming platform for eSports that showcases the league’s own large-scale events. More than 180 pro eSports players, teams and leagues from around the globe have dedicated MLG.tv streaming channels, and the platform features up-and-comers competing on Gamebattles with more than 40 titles.
Activision Blizzard’s eSports portfolio includes regional and global events for Activision’s “Call of Duty” and Blizzard Entertainment’s “Heroes of the Storm,” “Hearthstone” and “StarCraft” titles. Key events include Activision’s “Call of Duty World League,” “Call of Duty XP” and Blizzard Entertainment’s annual BlizzCon. In April, MLG’s “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Championship” generated record viewership numbers for an eSports event, garnering 71 million video views and a peak of 1.6 million concurrent viewers.