Esports Pioneer Mike Sepso Launches Electronic Sports Group With HBO, NBA, and IMG Vets
Electronic Sports Group (ESG), a global esports advisory firm, was announced by Esports pioneer Mike Sepso and former NBA and IMG executive Bobby Sharma. The firm will deliver strategic business advice to senior management at clients across the advertising, finance, sports, and media industries to ensure success in entering or accelerating growth in esports. Ken Hershman, former President of HBO Sports, and former Executive Chairman and Commissioner of the World Esports Association (WESA), has also joined the firm as a partner.
“Bobby and I envisioned Electronic Sports Group to provide a level of expertise and strategic insight that is missing in esports,” says Sepso, who will serve as the firm’s chairman. “Our team combines an extensive network of relationships, with deep institutional knowledge, and seasoned operational and transactional expertise to deliver a superior level of service for clients.”
Electronic Sports Group’s leadership uniquely enables their clients to achieve and sustain superior performance in esports by understanding industry trends, overcoming business challenges, and linking tangible actions to a clear vision.
ESG will have a strategic relationship with Nielsen, which has emerged as a leader in esports market intelligence and audience measurement. Nielsen will provide ESG with esports fan insights and sponsorship valuation data to support ESG’s consulting work. Nicole Pike, Managing Director of Nielsen Esports, notes, “Electronic Sports Group’s collective experience, knowledge, and credibility backed by reliable, independent measurement from Nielsen Esports offers the industry a greatly needed resource to help the esports sector mature and begin fulfilling its full economic potential.” The relationship with Nielsen builds on a longstanding collaboration with Sepso who has served on the company’s esports advisory board for two years.
In addition, ESG announced a strategic partnership with Sports Media Advisors (SMA) as the two firms plan to jointly advise clients seeking media and esports expertise. “SMA has built the leading sports media advisory practice and we’re thrilled to be partnering with them” says Sepso. SMA Founder Doug Perlman adds, “Like so many others, we see esports as a huge growth opportunity and couldn’t imagine a more respected or qualified group of professionals to partner within the space.”
Sepso is one of the most successful entrepreneurs and executives in Esports, with over 16 years of industry experience and a long track record of industry “firsts,” and is a highly sought-after speaker at the esports and gaming industry’s premier conferences and events. In 2002, he co-founded seminal esports business, Major League Gaming (MLG) with Sundance DiGiovanni, which went on to become the largest and most successful organized professional esports league, eventually acquired by Activision Blizzard in 2015. At Activision Blizzard, Sepso established and led the company’s first esports and media division, where he was instrumental in the design and launch of the Overwatch League (OWL). Following the launch of the OWL, he built and led Activision Blizzard’s first global partnerships team, overseeing worldwide commercial operations for all of Activision Blizzard’s esports initiatives, and landing some of the largest and most successful brand partnerships in the history of esports. Sepso is also a strategic partner and investor in the ownership group behind the NYXL, the New York OWL franchise, and is a co-chair of the IAB’s first working group on esports.
Sharma has two decades of experience as an attorney and a senior executive at some of the most respected sports companies in the world, including the NBA and IMG. As VP & General Counsel of the NBA Development League he led the establishment and operation of the NBA’s first minor league, and as SVP & Global Head of Basketball & Strategic Initiatives at IMG, he oversaw the creation, development, and management of basketball, soccer, and cricket properties around the world. “Esports commands a massive, global audience that’s well over 400 million strong, primarily 18-34 and nearly a third of which doesn’t consume traditional sports,” says Sharma. “Whether to better connect their core products with the esports community, or to find growth opportunities within the space, traditional sports stakeholders can no longer afford to wait on the sideline.”
Hershman is widely known in the television sports world for his nearly three decades helping build and innovate sports television programming for both HBO and Showtime. He has most recently been appointed Chief Operating Officer at Vuemix, a Silicon-valley based tech startup. Prior to that, Hershman was Executive Chairman & Commissioner of WESA, where he worked extensively with many of the top esports teams in the world, and pioneered a number of industry-shaping esports initiatives. Hershman is one of the world’s foremost experts in bridging the divide between traditional sports media and global esports properties.