October 22, 2015 / 5:59 PM / 3 years ago

Former ESPN chief to lead Activision Blizzard's e-sports push

(Reuters) - Videogame maker Activision Blizzard Inc, the company behind the “Call of Duty” and “Destiny” franchises, said it hired former ESPN Chief Executive Steve Bornstein to help expand in the booming business of competitive videogames.

Copies of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 video game published by Activision Blizzard, owned by Vivendi, are displayed in a shop in Rome, October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Bornstein will become chairman of a new division in Activision Blizzard dedicated to competitive gaming, or e-sports, the company said on Thursday.

E-sports refers to events ranging from virtual warfare games to computer-simulated soccer matches, often played for big prize money.

Mike Sepso, who co-founded Major League Gaming, one of the largest professional competitive videogame leagues, will serve as the division’s senior vice president, the company said.

The number of e-sports enthusiasts is expected to grow to 165.1 million in 2018 from 116.0 million at the end of this year, according to research firm Newzoo.

Reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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