Lionsgate Invests in E-Sports Franchise as Competitive Gaming Industry Grows

Courtesy of League of Legends; Courtesy of Lionsgate

The studio is taking a minority stake in the Immortals team, with an eye to creating more original e-sports content for TV and digital platforms.

Lionsgate is getting into the fast-growing professional video gaming sports business. 

The studio is joining a group of big-name entertainment, media and technology players as a part owner of the Immortals, an e-sports franchise. Lionsgate has taken a minority stake in the pro video game team alongside financier Michael Milken, Oaktree Capital principal Steve Kaplan, investor Gregory Milken, Third Wave entrepreneur Allen DeBevoise and Crosscut Ventures' Clinton Foy.

Lionsgate is taking a corporate stake in the pro video game team after its Interactive Ventures division president, Peter Levin, took a personal stake in the Immortals in 2015. The investment comes as e-sports, an industry expected to grow to $1 billion in revenue by 2018, according to Baird Equity Research, attracts increasing interest from Hollywood players eager to tap into fans of live gaming contests.

The Immortals franchise competes in the League of Legends North American league championship series, which recently sold out the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Lionsgate’s investment in pro gaming also follows Craig Piligian's Pilgrim Media Group, in which the studio is a majority investor, partnering with ESL, the world’s largest e-sports promoter, to create original e-sports entertainment content for TV and digital platforms.

Their first collaboration, in partnership with Microsoft, is centered around the iconic gaming brand Halo. "Our involvement in e-sports creates tremendous opportunities to develop new content and utilize our suite of distribution platforms for a coveted consumer demographic with compelling engagement metrics," Lionsgate's Levin said in a statement.

Immortals CEO Noah Whinston in his own statement said the studio and his team were focused on developing new entertainment formats, "and we’re thrilled to collaborate with them at the cutting edge of e-sports media."