Activision Blizzard, Inc. has acquired the business of Major League Gaming (MLG), a leader in creating and streaming premium live gaming events, organizing professional competitions and running competitive gaming leagues, for $46 million. The deal with MLG expands Activision Blizzard’s reach across the rapidly-growing esports ecosystem by adding proven live streaming capabilities and technologies to its network.

Activision Blizzard confirmed the acquisition on January 4, 2016 and said that the main target of the acquisition was MLG’s streaming operations Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick explained to The New York Times that the company’s goal was to build the ESPN of video games, a kind of television cable channel that would be devoted to esports coverage and analysis with premium in-house productions that could attract more major advertisers.    

Bobby  Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, said in a statement: “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.”

Mike Sepso, Senior Vice President of Activision Blizzard Media Networks and MLG Co-founder, said in a statement: “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.”

Founded in 2002 and based in New York City, Major League Gaming is a professional esports organization. MLG has also involved in television production and game development. The company’s is a premium online broadcast network for professional-level esports and its MLG pro Circuit is the longest-running esports league in North America. In addition, the company’s GameBattles is the largest online gaming tournament system across consoles, PC and mobile platforms.

Following the deal, CEO Sundance DiGiovanni would be replaced by MLG’s former CFO Greg Crisholm. Despite the acquisition, MLG will continue to operate, MLG Pro Circuit and GameBattles platforms, and will continue to work with its partners and other publishers across the gaming industry. 

Founded in 2008 and based in Santa Monica, California, Activision Blizzard, Inc., develops and publishes games based on some of the most beloved entertainment franchises, including Call of Duty®, Destiny, Skylanders®, Guitar Hero®, World of Warcraft®, StarCraft®, Diablo®, and Hearthstone®: Heroes of Warcraft™. Activision Blizzard is a member of the S&P 500, and the world’s most successful standalone interactive entertainment company.