Activision Blizzard has named former Fox Sports executive Pete Vlastelica as president and CEO of its Major League Gaming esports division.
The move is aimed at creating an all-star esports executive team as fans embrace the idea of spectating major gaming events. Market research SuperData says that the global esports market is expected to grow from $892 million in 2016 to $1.23 billion by 2019.
Vlastelica will work alongside former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein, who is chairman of MLG, and MLG cofounder Mike Sepso, who is competitive gaming leader and senior vice president. Former MLG CEO and cofounder Sundance DiGiovanni remains the vice president of brands and content for MLG.
“We continue to add to our all-star esports leadership team. Pete is an entrepreneurial leader with a history of creating inspired content and developing new digital channels of distribution,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, in a statement. “As we continue to build MLG into the premier esports network, Pete will further our mission celebrating the accomplishments of gamers worldwide.”
Vlastelica founded and sold the online sports network Yardbarker to Fox in 2010, and he most recently served as Fox Sports’ executive vice president of digital. At Activision Blizzard, Vlastelica will expand and enhance the company’s broadcast, content and distribution leadership across the global esports ecosystem.
“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,” said Vlastelica, in a statement. “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.”
At Fox Sports, Vlastelica led content, product development, social media and operations, with a focus on creating multi-platform content properties, including Emmy-award winning “Garbage Time with Katie Nolan.” Vlastelica was responsible for production and distribution of all Fox Sports content across digital platforms, including FoxSports.com, Fox Sports Go, and Yardbarker. Under Vlastelica’s leadership, the mobile app Fox Sports Go streamed Super Bowl XLVIII, at the time setting a new Internet streaming record for a sporting event.
Previously, he managed business development at the Walt Disney Internet Group in London.
“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. He’s a rare talent who will deliver great opportunities to our players and fans,” said Bornstein, in a statement.
In April, MLG’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Championship set record esports viewership for the event during its broadcast, with 71 million video views, 45 million hours of live broadcast, and record 1.6 million concurrent viewers. And the company just wrapped up its Call of Duty World League Championships, which awarded $2 million to teams at the Call of Duty XP event in Los Angeles over the Labor Day weekend.
Vlastelica will be based at Activision Blizzard’s Santa Monica headquarters and report to Activision Blizzard chief operating officer Thomas Tippl. Bornstein and Sepso will continue in their leadership positions and operations for MLG will continue to be based in New York.