While not that well known outside of the gaming world professional gamers have been making a lot of money for a number of years but have never made it to the level where we see them on prime time sports channels, much less consider them to be professional athletes.
That could all change with the announcement that Major League Gaming (MLG) has inked a deal with IMG Worldwide that will see MLG events being pushed through IMG’s deals with broadband and broadcasting partners.
Under the deal, IMG will help build brand awareness of MLG through distribution, programming and marketing agreements with broadcast and broadband partners. IMG distributes more than 19,000 hours of TV sports programming to major broadcasters around the world every year. Now, on the web or on broadcast media, pro gamer events will be aired alongside other sports shows.
For individual gamers, the deal means much more exposure and possibly more endorsement deals that go with that. It may mean that more gamers will be able to make a living as professional cyberathletes, much as the do in other countries such as South Korea.
DiGiovanni said the reason is that there is a lot of crossover between young sports fans and gamers these days. Since New York-based MLG has been around for almost eight years, many kids and young sports fans have grown up with the notion that competitive online video games such as Halo or StarCraft 2 are real sports.