NEW YORK Upstart sports league Major League Gaming has nabbed sports marketing veteran Harlan Stone to become the new president of MLG Properties -- just as the growing league enjoys surging Web traffic for its live events.
Stone was most recently principal partner at Velocity Sports & Entertainment, an agency that works with brands such as FedEx, NBC Universal and IBM. During his nearly 30 years in the business, he's logged stints at McCann Erickson's Momentum Worldwide as well as Octagon.
"During my career I've probably worked in a consulting capacity for virtually every major sports league, from the National Football League to second- and third-tier leagues," said Stone. "I've never seen anything quite like the acceleration at MLG." Stone said he would focus on tapping into his experience and marketer relationships to help MLG expand its sponsor roster, which currently includes the likes of Dr Pepper.
The six-year-old league, which has endured even as competitors such as World Series of Video Game have shuttered, has seen its Web audience for various tour events swell of late. An MLG competition held in July in Orlando, Fla., attracted 365,000 unique users over a six-hour period, according to MLG executives, up 35 percent from the 270,000 uniques drawn the previous year. Users on average logged on to view professional gamers compete head to head for over 80 minutes, said MLG president and CEO Matthew Bromberg.
"That's a degree of engagement that is unique in the marketplace," he said. Bromberg believes that such numbers, along with hires like Stone, should help legitimize the still-under-the-radar sport. "This is one of those signposts along the way that leads people to believe that this is for real," he said.