By Derrik J. Lang
AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES — Activision is adding a veteran e-sports organizer to its arsenal.
“Call of Duty” publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. announced plans Monday to buy Major League Gaming in a move to push deeper into e-sports. The deal to purchase the 12-year-old competitive gaming organizer is reportedly worth $46 million.
“Our acquisition of Major League Gaming’s business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of e-sports,” Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement.
Under the deal, MLG will continue to produce competitions featuring games created by Activision and other publishers. The e-sports organizer will also continue to operate the online broadcast network MLG.tv and be led by MLG co-founder and CEO Sundance DiGiovanni.
The announcement comes after months of several high-profile hires and acquisitions by Activision.
Activision hired MLG co-founder Mike Sepso and former ESPN and NFL Network executive Steve Bornstein last year.
In October, Activision unveiled plans to shift an annual “Call of Duty ” tournament to a year-round international league, as well as increase the prize pool from $1 to $3 million
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company, which also publishers the “Skylanders” and “Guitar Hero” franchises, said in November it was acquiring “Candy Crush Saga” publisher King Entertainment for $5.9 billion and planning to create its own film and TV series based on Activision Blizzard franchises.
The competitive gaming genre draws tens of millions of spectators online and in person. Last year, a report released by research firm Newzoo said 205 million people watched e-sports in 2014.