The Modern Times Group (MTG), a Swedish-owned sports broadcaster, has acquired the majority shareholding in ESL, the world's biggest eSports group.
The firm will obtain the majority (74 per cent) of outstanding shares in the fifteen year old company for €78 million and will aim to increase the levels of revenue generation from eSports fans. Senior management at ESL, including MDs Ralf Reichert and Heinrich Zetlmayer, founder Jens Hilgers and key tech figure Jan-Philipp Reining, will remain at the company.
"At MTG, we love sports and we love sports fans. Our TV channels and platforms are home to the world's leading sports brands, and are watched by typically young audiences," said MTG CEO and President Jørgen Madsen Lindemann. "Esports is fast becoming one of the most watched and passionately followed global sports categories amongst younger audiences, and there are now almost as many gamers in the world as traditional sports fans, and eSports is set to become bigger than ice hockey during 2015.
"However, the average revenue generated per eSports enthusiast in 2014 was just over USD 2, compared to USD 56 for traditional sports fans, so this global phenomenon has tremendous potential. This investment is a key milestone in our digital development. We look forward to working with the talented Turtle team to grow the global esports community, and to make this exciting content even more broadly available online and on TV."
"When we founded ESL 15 years ago, our goal was to bring esports to fans all around the world and establish it as a global sport," added Reichert. "Today, eSports enjoys worldwide recognition and now, together with MTG, it is time to take eSports to the next level. 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. MTG's extensive operational network in over 100 countries will help us bring ESL and esports to many more places around the world, while allowing us to continue expanding on strong, strategic local partnerships. The ESL leadership team could not be more excited about accelerating the development of the entire esports industry together with MTG for years to come."
ESL currently runs the Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One and the ESL ESEA Pro League, with offices in Germany, Russia, France, Poland, Spain, China and North America.