If you still had any doubt that esports is now a thing, an executive leaving Fox Sports to run Major League Gaming should raise an eyebrow and awareness. Pete Vlastelica is now the president and CEO of Activision Blizzard’s esports division, leaving his post as Fox Sports executive vice president of digital.
Major League Gaming runs professional leagues and streams live events, and Vlastelica will be tasked with expanding and enhancing Activision Blizzard’s broadcast, content and distribution in media, while also streamlining rules across different leagues to make them more accessible, according to an official press release announcing the hire. He joins an impressive team at the company, which includes former ESPN and NFL Network CEO Steve Bornstein and MLG’s co-founder and president Mike Sepso. Activision acquired MLG in January.
.@MLG It's my privilege, believe me. Now get back to shaping the future of media.
— Pete Vlastelica (@PeteVlastelica) September 7, 2016
MLG’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Championship event in April set viewership records for esports, including 71 million video views, 45 million hours of live broadcast and 1.6 million viewers watching the event together at the same time. That’s a huge audience to tap into with the popularity of Activision games like Call of Duty, Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft that make up many of the MLG competition events.
“Pete understands that whether it’s on a field, a console or a phone, players and fans want to experience community, camaraderie and excellence in competition,” Bornstein said in the official release. “He’s a rare talent who will deliver great opportunities to our players and fans.”
Vlastelica joined Fox Sports in 2010 after the company acquired his Yardbarker sports blogs network. He co-founded Yardbarker in 2006 and had served as the network’s CEO. At Fox Sports, Vlastelica was in charge of producing and distributing content across all of the company’s digital outlets, including FoxSports.com, the Fox Sports Go app, and the Yardbarker network, while also helping to create shows like Garbage Time with Katie Nolan.
“I’m joining MLG because of the rare combination of massive digital scale and deep audience engagement around competitive gaming, and because there’s no better category of live streaming video content out there,” Vlastelica said in the announcement. “It’s clear that video games are the future of sports – and if any company is positioned to capitalize on this global opportunity, it’s Activision Blizzard. I’m thrilled to join the team.”