Major League Gaming (MLG), the pro video game circuit, has hired sports vet Neal Pilson to shop TV rights to the league.
Pilson, who runs his own shop at Pilson Communications, will also join the company's advisory board. He is the former head of CBS Sports who has since consulted for clients including Arena Football, NASCAR, and the Olympics.
MLG, complete with a red, white and blue logo with a video game contoller where, say, Jerry West would be in the NBA logo, is shopping seven tournaments for next year, where the top Halo 2, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Tekken 5, players go head to head for $1 million in prize money, according to league CEO Michael Sepso.
The 2005 championship will be held in January 2006 in New York. That could conceivably be part of the TV deal, but more likley it will start with the 2006-2007 season.
MLG already produces the weekly video game update segment on ESPN's Cold Pizza, but it is ready for the TV big time.
According to Sepso, talks are ongoing with cable and broadcast nets. The league already has relationships with ESPN and MTV, but has not done any long-form programming.
Sepso says that in addition to a straight rights deal, a time buy--buying the time on the network and keeping all the ad revenue--is a definite possibility. He calls that "an interesting model" because "it would allow us to completely control our destiny."
Sepso says the company has not had a shortage of sponsors or demand from the consumer-goods arena.