Activision Blizzard hires deputy MLB commissioner to lead esports

Activision Blizzard made a significant personnel move this week, announcing the hiring of Major League Baseball deputy commissioner Tony Pettiti to lead its esports and entertainment efforts.

Pettiti, who will officially begin on August 17th, will be Activision Blizzard’s President of Sports and Entertainment and report directly to CEO Bobby Kotick.

Tony Petitti Activision Blizzard
Image credit: Activision Blizzard

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Kotick commented in a release: “Tony is one of the most highly regarded executives in sports and entertainment. His success in media and as Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball is the perfect blend of skills to help us realize our aspirations for esports and our related businesses. He is admired by owners, media executives, players, and fans.”

Activision Blizzard currently runs two franchised leagues: Overwatch League and Call of Duty League. Additionally, Blizzard runs esports initiatives for titles such as Hearthstone, StarCraft II, Warcraft III, and World of Warcraft. In addition to esports, Pettiti will oversee the company’s movie, television, and consumer products efforts.

Prior to his roles of Deputy Commissioner, Business and Media of Major League Baseball and Chief Operating Officer for the league, Pettiti was the President of the traditional sports league’s MLB Network, which he helped launch in 2008. Before that, the 13-time Emmy award winner was an Executive VP and Executive Producer at CBS Sports.

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Petitti added: “Bobby Kotick has been translating his vision into opportunity at Activision Blizzard for 30 years. I couldn’t be more excited to use my own 30 years of sports and entertainment experience to help Activision Blizzard realise its ambitions. It’s clear to me the company has an incredible opportunity to connect players and fans in new and innovative ways, and I’m excited to be joining the company at such an important moment in its history.

“The last 12 years in baseball have been extraordinary for me and I am especially grateful for the leadership and mentorship that Commissioner Manfred provided to me and the League.”

Esports Insider says: You know it’s a big opportunity when someone who is potentially next in line to run Major League Baseball opts to depart the storied league. Activision Blizzard has invested a lot of time and resources into esports so far, and it may need a strong hand to ensure that its franchised leagues come out of the pandemic ready to capitalise on the company’s ambitious, but temporarily sidelined plans for matches in local markets around the world.

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