Friday May 6,2016 : ACTIVISION COMMITTED TO EXPANDING IN E-SPORTS VERTICAL
CEO of multi-billion dollar video game developer bullish on the future.
The CEO of the multi-billion dollar video gaming company Activision (it produces and sponsors games like Call of Duty, Starcraft and Destiny) is confident that the burgeoning eSports phenomenon has a great future…and he intends to continue being a part of it.
In an interview with the publication Gamasutra this week, Bobby Kotick said the massive following eSports commands ensures that revenue opportunities abound, and that the vertical will be the next big revenue driver for his company.
Pointing out that success as an organised sport was just beginning; Kotick observed that already eSports viewership is greater than the individual audiences of the NHL, Major League Baseball, or the NBA.
And he is of the view that going forward events centred on games like Call of Duty, Hearthstone, and Overwatch could each attract audiences in excess of any of the best known sports leagues.
Despite that, eSport advertising and subscription revenues are currently dwarfed by those achieved in major league sports, Kotick admitted…but 15 or 20 years hence that may not be the case, and eSports events will be generating revenues through streams like broadcast deals (the NFL currently earns around $7 billion a year from this source alone), he opined.
The Activision boss told Gamasutra that the still untapped potential of eSports presented a "virtuous circle" wherein fans pay to watch or participate – sponsors are willing to finance events – those events then become the content that's broadcast by networks, leading to demand for regional, national and global events offering opportunities like broadcasting rights; ticket, licensing and merchandising sales; more sponsorships at all levels; and opportunities to sell professional teams for professional leagues.
"Over the long term we view this as a tremendous opportunity to both celebrate our players and create a lot of value for our shareholders," Kotick said, adding that his company is better positioned than any other entertainment company to benefit from the vertical in the years ahead.
Kotick wasn't just talking the talk…late last year he announced the introduction of a new company division titled Activision Blizzard Media Networks, led by sports executive Steve Bornstein and Major League Gaming co-founder Mike Sepso, with assets from the acquisition of the now defunct IGN Pro League.
Bornstein subsequently (early 2016) acquired "substantially all" Major League Gaming's assets for $46 million in order to boost Activision Blizzard's push into eSports and develop an eSports channel.