Houston Outlaws

Expanding its foray into the fast-growing competitive video gaming space, Beasley Broadcast Group announced late Thursday that it has acquired the Overwatch League’s Houston Outlaws Esports team from Immortals Gaming Club. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Created by publisher Blizzard Entertainment, the Overwatch League is a professional Esports league with city-based teams in Asia, Europe, and North America. The Overwatch League will begin its third season in February 2020.

Beasley’s acquisition of the Outlaws again expands its role in the video gaming space. The broadcaster launched its XP division with the purchase of the gaming lifestyle show “Checkpoint Radio” in October 2018. In April it purchased a minority stake in Esports organization the Detroit Renegades.

Also on Thursday, Beasley named Leslie Fitzsimmons to the newly created position of Executive Director of Sales & Marketing for XP Esports.

During a third quarter 2019 earnings call, CEO Caroline Beasley said the company’s Esports division is one of its three “core buckets,” which also includes radio and digital.

“The acquisition of the Houston Outlaws significantly expands our growing Esports platform,” Caroline Beasley said in announcing the deal. “The Houston Outlaws represent a rare investment opportunity, as there are only 20 Overwatch League teams in the world, and the transaction partners Beasley with Blizzard Entertainment and its parent company, Activision Blizzard, a leading global developer and publisher of interactive entertainment content and services.”

The world of competitive video gaming has become a fast-growing international phenomenon with millions of fans. Houston is home to one of the largest Esports fan bases in the U.S. and buying the Outlaws will help diversify Beasley’s revenue streams. The combination of its radio stations and digital assets with i24/7 coverage of Esports news, “will allow us to build the value of the Outlaws franchise through a range of revenue sources, including ticket sales, advertising, sponsorship, licensing, e-commerce, and other partnerships,” Beasley said.

CheckpointXP programming is currently featured on about 70 radio stations in the U.S. on the Sun Broadcast Network; on daily podcasts on Amazon’s video game streaming platform, Twitch; and, on CheckpointXP On Campus, the first collegiate-based esports show in the U.S.

Pete Vlastelica, president and CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports and Overwatch League commissioner, said his company looks forward to working with Besaley “and ensuring a smooth transition for the team, the players, and the fans. Outlaws fans are incredibly passionate and 2020 is going to be an exciting year for the entire league.”

Beasley said she expects her company will realize the strategic benefits of the purchase in 2020. “We believe this approach will enable us to deliver great local, national, and global content, while creating an even stronger marketing platform for advertisers and enhancing shareholder value.”