Activision’s newly acquired Major League Gaming division is pulling in huge audiences even when it broadcasts games that don’t belong to the giant publisher.
MLG held a tournament for the military shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive earlier this month, and it attracted 71 million live and on-demand views. The competition also set a new record for simultaneous viewers during a Counter-Strike esports event at 1.6 million. That surpasses the 1.3 million for ESL’s CS:GO major in August, and it continues the enormous growth for an esports game that isn’t Dota 2 or League of Legends. With this level of fan engagement and growth beyond the multiplayer online arena battler genre, pro gaming is easily on pace to reach $465 million in revenue by 2017.
MLG also revealed that it had viewers watching 45 million hours of live broadcasts, which is significantly more than ESL’s 34 million for the August event. Valve, the publisher responsible for CS:GO, and its broadcast partners are clearly benefiting from instituting a pro-golf-like Majors system that gives the Counter-Strike several important events each year that feed into a culminating championship event.
This was MLG’s first time hosting a CS:GO major, and the outfit has proven that it can take the momentum from a competitor like ESL and grow it even further. That’s important as MLG attempts to build its brand out as the “ESPN of esports.”
This also suggests that Activision has not hampered MLG in any way. The Call of Duty publisher acquired MLG earlier this year. That has already led to close collaborations between the esports company and Call of Duty developer Treyarch to bring broadcasts of esports events into the Black Ops III game.