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Pilgrim, esports firm create TV, digital pact

Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Media Group and esports firm ESL have formed a partnership to create and distribute original content.

Craig Piligian 1The pair will focus on esports entertainment content – filmed and live gaming competitions – for television and digital platforms.

ESL is one of the world’s leading esports companies, with its events including in the Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One and ESL Pro League series. Its competitions and tournaments drew more than 100 million viewers, who watched more than nine and a half billion hours of programming.

Pilgrim is best known as a reality TV producer of shows including Fast ‘N’ Loud, Ghost Hunters, Wicked Tuna and Benn Affleck/Matt Damon-produced Go90 show The Runner.

Lionsgate president of interactive ventures and games Peter Levin brought the deal to Piligian, who sold a large stake in Pilgrim to US studio Lionsgate Entertainment last year.

“Pilgrim has a long history of creating competition programming that taps into the passion of fans – whether the playing field is the Octagon, the wilderness, on a fishing boat or in an arena,” said Piligian.

The esports market represents a huge opportunity for producers, with Jupiter Research forecasting the market to be worth up to US$1 billion by 2020 and market research firm Newzoo even more optimistically predicting it will be worth US$1.1 billion in revenues by 2019.

The likes of Endemol Shine Beyond and Modern Times Group are among traditional TV players attempting to get in on the action.

“esports is exploding,” said ESL executve chairman Steven Roberts. “Combining the authenticity of ESL with the storytelling expertise of Pilgrim and Lionsgate to further expand the audience is exciting. While the core gaming fans have been enjoying our content for years, the opportunity to showcase eSports through a different lens is an amazing opportunity.”