2016 was a year of change for Major League Gaming (MLG), the North American-based eSports organisation. Early in the year, Activation-Blizzard announced the acquisition of the company.
This heralded a new beginning for the company. The brand will be used to spearhead Activision-Blizzards eSports presence, with games like Call of Duty and Overwatch having events ran by MLG, while still continuing to run non-Activision games such as Gears of War and Halo.
The acquisition brings an end to the initial run of Major League Gaming, founded in 2002. Games like Halo CE and Tekken were titles that helped grow the company from a local LAN, to the renowned name it is today. eSportsFitness.org looks at some of the pivotal moments of MLG in the pre-Activision era.
Debut on the USA network
In 2006, MLG and Boost Mobile partnered up to broadcast MLG Halo on the USA Network, and later G4. The weekly show was the first time any gaming league was broadcast on US Television. Being produced post-event, the program offered a much more polished experience compared to a regular live stream.
Since then, very few leagues have been able to command a consistent footing on Television, a testament to how much of an achievement this was for MLG at the time.
ESPN partnership in 2008.
In 2008, ESPN showed some interest in the Halo eSports scene. The partnership included a title sponsor for its LAN events, Friday nights being exclusive streamed on ESPN’s website, as well as a host of ESPN sponsored content.
Many felt it was only a matter of time until ESPN, and other sports network’s would make an even bigger investment into the scene. It did not happen as quickly as some would have though, ESPN did not make further steps into esports for many years. Fast forward to the current day, ESPN now has its own eSports news division, and multiple sports networks now have a much larger footing in eSports worldwide.
Dr Pepper Bottles
In 2008, MLG announced Dr Pepper as the official beverage sponsor of MLG. As part of the deal, Tom Taylor, a professional Halo player, appeared on 175,000 bottles of DrPepper.
This partnership garnered a lot of press at the time, even leading to Dr Pepper experiencing a notable increase in sales. MLG and Dr Pepper have maintained a solid business relationship for many years.
MLG picks up Starcraft in 2010
Despite the excellent partnerships and venture capital MLG had achieved at the time, the company in 2010 had not progressed as much as anticipated. Despite being a live even t juggernaut, Halo’s online viewership was not enough to take the company forward. In 2010, MLG ran a low key Starcraft 2 event at its national championship, gaining a lot of interest.
From that point on, MLG poured it’s resources into Starcraft, bringing in a much larger and diverse audience. Halo was no longer the focus, as Starcraft became a much more lucrative option in the coming years, representing a new stage in MLG’s life where it was no longer dependant on one game.
Twitch, spawning from Justin.TV, has become a staple of the Internet, providing a platform for people around the world to spectate others playing games.
In 2013, MLG announced its own streaming platform, MLG.tv. This was an attempt to compete with Twitch. MLG.tv focused primarily on competitive players, reportedly offering a much larger amount to entice streamers away from Twitch.
The platform was also used exclusively to stream MLG’s future events, moving away from the much more popular Twitch.
The move was met with negative feedback. Games at the time, under the MLG umbrella, could not grow as much on the MLG.tv network. To this day, Twitch remains the top streaming platform. With Youtube and Facebook beginning to live stream, how long will that last?