One of the biggest esports companies in the world is under new ownership.
MTG, a multimedia conglomerate that operates out of Sweden, has just spent approximately $87 million to acquire a 74 percent stake in Turtle Entertainment, the parent company of esports organization ESL. This is one of the biggest deals in this sector, and it’s the first time a traditional entertainment company has bought into the competitive-gaming market. With that industry on the rise and expected to generate $465 million in revenue by 2017, it was just a matter of time before outside media companies wanted a piece of the action.
In a statement, ESL chief executive officer Ralf Reichert said that “we are excited to partner with MTG, who share our enthusiasm for the sport and bring an entrepreneurial commitment to help make this dream come true.”
And while that might just sound like fluff, it is actually a big part of this new partnership. MTG operates in over 100 countries, and it manages radio stations and online content portals. It has extensive experience working in traditional sports. It is especially present in Eastern European and Scandinavian nations, which is a part of the world that has a strong esports scene.
In a statement of his own, MTG CEO Jørgen Madsen Lindemann recognized the importance of pro gaming among young people, and he noted that marketers and brands are rapidly turning to the industry as a way to reach those key demographics of men between the ages of 13 and 34 years old.
“However, the average revenue generated per esports enthusiast in 2014 was just over $2, compared to $56 for traditional sports enthusiasts, so this global phenomenon has tremendous potential,” said Lindemann.
Esports has long had a lot of numbers — in terms of viewers and earnings — that suggest it is a major force. But nothing quite proves that it has arrived like old media spending money to be a part of that future. Of course, ESL isn’t the only major player in this space. Major League Gaming (MLG) is the American-focused counterpart to ESL’s European-facing endeavors. And it has told me previously that it has turned down acquisition offers. Now, we’ll see if it will continue to do so.