European broadcaster MTG has reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in eSports giant ESL.
The deal was first rumoured in May. MTG will acquire the majority of the shares in ESL’s holding company Turtle Entertainment for ?78m.
ESL’s current management team - comprising of founder Jens Hilgers and managing directors Ralf Reichert and Heinrich Zetlmayer - will remain in place, having signed new “long-term employment agreements”
“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,” ESL CEO Ralf Reichert said. Today eSports enjoys worldwide recognition and now, together with MTG, it is time to bring 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, and broadcast sports experience, 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 couldn’t be more excited to accelerate the entire eSports industry forward together with MTG for the years to come.”
MTG president and CEO Jørgen Madsen Lindemann added: “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. 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 $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.”