Microsoft Studios’ 343 Industries, developer of the blockbuster “Halo” first-person shooter series, has struck a deal with TV production company Pilgrim Media Group to develop the show. The partners did not reveal an expected premiere date, nor have they lined up TV or digital distribution deals for the series at this point.
The deal for the “Halo 5: Guardians” show is the first project to emerge from the joint initiative of Pilgrim Media, Lionsgate and video-game league ESL to create and distribute original eSports entertainment content for TV and digital platforms. Previously, Lionsgate made an equity investment in Pilgrim Media last year.
Since first launching in 2001, the “Halo” franchise has generated more than $5 billion in worldwide sales to date. According to 343 Industries, eSports is a key pillar of “Halo 5: Guardians,” featured in such events as the Halo World Championship and the Halo Championship Series (HCS), where top North American and European teams compete on a weekly basis.
“We continue to be blown away by the sheer excitement surrounding eSports,” said Craig Piligian, CEO of Pilgrim. “Esports and ‘Halo’ fans are exceedingly passionate about gaming and devoted to their favorite titles and franchises — they are exactly the kind of audience we want to produce for.”
Kiki Wolfkill, 343 Industries’ studio head of Halo Transmedia, added that the reality series “will bring the intensity and extreme competition of ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ eSports to a television audience. There is no better partner than Pilgrim to give our fans insight into the world of ‘Halo’ eSports.”
Peter Levin, Lionsgate president of interactive ventures and games, and Steven Roberts, executive chairman of ESL North America, helped broker the deal with 343 Industries.
Esports has been a fast-growing and exceedingly popular pastime for video-game fans worldwide. The segment is projected to generate $493 million in revenue for 2016, growing to $1.1 billion by 2019, according to research firm NewZoo. The number of eSports enthusiasts is expected to grow from 148 million this year to 345 million by 2019, NewZoo predicts.
Companies that have made moves to capitalize on the popularity of eSports include Turner and WME-IMG, which teamed up to form ELeague; Amazon, which acquired video-game internet broadcaster Twitch; and Activision Blizzard, which bought Major League Gaming earlier this year.