Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) today announced that veteran FOX Sports executive Pete Vlastelica has been named President and CEO of Major League Gaming (MLG), joining sports broadcast titan Steve Bornstein and competitive gaming leader Mike Sepso on the company’s all-star esports team. Vlastelica, who founded and sold the online sports network Yardbarker to Fox in 2010, 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.
“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, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “As we continue to build MLG into the premier esports network, Pete will further our mission celebrating the accomplishments of gamers worldwide.”
“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 MLG Chairman Steve Bornstein.
“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. “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, one of the largest online sports networks, which he founded. 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.
Vlastelica’s appointment is another key moment in Activision Blizzard’s competitive gaming leadership.
The company launched Activision Blizzard’s esports division last year, naming former CEO of ESPN and the NFL Network Steve Bornstein as the division’s chairman, and co-founder of MLG Mike Sepso as its Senior Vice President.
In December, Activision Blizzard acquired the business of MLG, a leader in creating and streaming live gaming events, organizing professional competitions and running competitive gaming leagues.
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.
In May, MLG debuted the Enhanced Viewership Experience (EVE) at NewFronts and a collaboration with Facebook to broadcast live competitions to the platform’s 1.6 billion members.
In September, Activision launched the Call of Duty World League. In partnering with MLG and MGL.tv, the league hosted its final live qualifying competition at the Call of Duty MLG Orlando Open and brought millions of fans live coverage from Call of Duty XP.
Vlastelica will be based at Activision Blizzard’s Santa Monica headquarters and report to 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 City.
This year, more than 256 million people watched competitive gaming. The company’s esports portfolio includes regional and global events for Activision’s Call of Duty® and Blizzard Entertainment’s Heroes of the Storm®, Hearthstone® and StarCraft® titles. Key events include Activision’s Call of Duty World League, Call of Duty XP and Blizzard Entertainment’s annual BlizzCon celebration and Heroes of the Dorm competition.