**UPDATE** MLG reportedly bought by Activision Blizzard

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**UPDATE**

It has now been officially confirmed that Activision Blizzard have bought MLG. The good news is that operations of MLG will continue as normal. On the reason for the acquisition, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said it is part of their plan to create “the ESPN of eSports”.

Press Release:

Activision Blizzard Acquires the Business of Major League Gaming

Activision Blizzard today announced the acquisition of the business of Major League Gaming (MLG). MLG is a leader in creating and streaming premium live gaming events, organizing professional competitions and running competitive gaming leagues. The acquisition expands Activision Blizzard’s reach across the rapidly-growing esports ecosystem by adding proven live streaming capabilities and technologies to the Activision Blizzard Media Networks division, led by former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein and MLG Co-founder Mike Sepso.

Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, said, “Our acquisition of Major League Gaming’s business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of esports. 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. MLG has an incredibly strong and seasoned team and a thriving community. Together, we will create new ways to celebrate players and their unique skills, dedication and commitment to gaming. We are excited to add Sundance and the entire MLG esports team to our competitive gaming initiatives.”

Sundance DiGiovanni, Chief Executive Officer and MLG Co-founder, said, “Our mission for over 12 years has been to promote and expand the growth of competitive gaming worldwide, and today the industry is at a key inflection point as its popularity soars and rivals that of many traditional professional sports. This acquisition and Activision Blizzard’s commitment to competitive gaming will expand the opportunities for gamers to be recognized and celebrated for their competitive excellence.”

Mike Sepso, Senior Vice President of Activision Blizzard Media Networks and MLG Co-founder, said, “Sundance and I founded MLG to highlight the incredible talent of competitive gamers all over the world. Activision Blizzard’s esports leadership, incredible intellectual property and long history in competitive gaming create a perfect home for MLG’s capabilities. The acquisition of MLG’s business is an important step towards Activision Blizzard Media Networks’ broader mission to bring esports into the mainstream by creating and broadcasting premium esports content, organizing global league play and expanding distribution with key gaming partners.”

MLG will continue to operate MLG.tv, MLG Pro Circuit and GameBattles platforms, and will continue to work with its partners and other publishers across the industry. MLG.tv is a premium online broadcast network for professional-level esports and the MLG Pro Circuit is the longest-running esports league in North America. GameBattles is the largest online gaming tournament system across consoles, PC and mobile platforms.

With over 100 million unique viewers, the esports audience is estimated to be bigger than audiences for many professional sports leagues. Creating premium content for these audiences will provide significant opportunities in ticket sales, advertising, sponsorships, licensing and merchandising. By 2017, esports is projected to have over 300 million viewers. For the past 12 years, MLG has helped bring esports into the mainstream with broadcasts of professional gaming competitions that rival traditional sports fan engagement.

**ORIGINAL STORY**

Activision Blizzard has reportedly purchased “substantially all” of Major League Gaming’s (MLG) assets for $46 million.

Should this buyout prove to be legitimate (neither Activision nor MLG have made an official statement yet), it is likely to change the face of MLG forever. In fact it has already seen the current CEO Sundance DiGiovanni removed and replaced with former CFO Greg Chisholm.

According to the eSports Observer report, the deal was decided at a special meeting by the MLG’s Board of Directors on 21 December, with a letter sent to the stockholders informing them of the sale on 22 December. It was also reportedly done as a “corporate action taken without a stockholders’ meeting by less than unanimous written consent of our stockholders,” which is “allowed under Section 228(e) of the Delaware General Corporation Law.”

The cash looks set to alleviate some of the debts currently owed by MLG who have been a crucial part of the growth of eSports both in North America and the rest of the world, and while it would be easy to question the motives of Activision Blizzard in all this, the company has been moving towards a larger focus on eSports recently.

Activision Blizzard last year announced their new eSports division with a former CEO of ESPN and the NFL Network, as well as a former president of MLG at the helm. At the time they did not detail their plans but it might very well be that this MLG deal was part of those unrevealed plans at the time.

The other side of the coin is that Activision Blizzard probably have the muscle to do their own thing anyway if they wanted to, and considering the current Call of Duty World League is actually running under the ESL banner the MLG buyout seems just a little odd.

Alongside that, should MLG continue in some shape or form, there is a question of what is likely to happen to the titles not from the Activision Blizzard stable like Counter-Strike which has a championship planned for Columbus, Ohio starting at the end of March.

Activision Blizzard certainly have enough eSports related titles of their own and the announced eSports division would surely have been capable of handling them without MLG in the mix. With Call of Duty, StarCraft 2, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone and the upcoming Overwatch it would be difficult to see Activision Blizzard stretch their focus over titles not being developed and published by them.

There is no denying that Activision Blizzard is looking at eSports as a major growth area still and are looking to capitalise on the viewership numbers possible with a comprehensive media and streaming plan that the MLG brand could bring – and the potential to rival Valve and what they have achieved with their eSports titles and focus.

What this will all eventually mean to MLG and eSports in general is not yet known, but the almost secret nature of the deal has left Forbes questioning the legitimacy of the information, and we suggest that until the two parties involved make an official statement on the matter, you treat it all as a rumour rather.

About Zombie Dredd

Wannabe gaming journalist. Wannabe zombie. And sometimes clan leader of OAP. Clint O'Shea when in his human disguise.