Activision Blizzard Names MLB’s Petitti Head of Sports & Entertainment

    • Petitti will oversee esports, consumer products, and film and television.
    • Activision Blizzard wants to improve the spectator experience for its leagues.

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Major League Baseball Deputy Commissioner Tony Petitti is leaving the league to become president of sports and entertainment at Activision Blizzard.

Effective Aug. 17, Petitti will oversee esports, consumer products, and film and television for the video game publisher.

At MLB, Petitti oversaw marketing, broadcasting and media rights sales, digital content, youth programming, special events, and the MLB Network. Prior to his role at MLB, Petitti – a 13-time Emmy winner – was president of MLB Network, which he helped launch in 2008. 

“[Activision Blizzard CEO] 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 realize its ambitions,” Petitti said. “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.”

According to Forbes, Petitti was “mainly hired to boost Activision Blizzard’s two city-based esports leagues, Overwatch League and Call of Duty League and help take their televised product and live event business to the next level.” 

Kotick told Forbes that his company “wants to make the spectator experience even more accessible and available.” He added that Petitti has a track record of success in doing both for MLB and MLB Network, and CBS and ABC before. 

“When you look at what he’s done at baseball, there’s been a lot of innovation and an enormous amount of operational excellence,” Kotick said. “Tony is well regarded as being both strategic and incredibly operationally capable. And as we go and take what is now a few hundred million dollar a year business and grow it, and you start to have to execute local markets around the world, I think there isn’t a better person than I could’ve chosen to actually take the esports initiatives and our entertainment initiatives to the next level.”

On Aug. 4, Activision Blizzard announced that it hit record numbers in the quarter spanning April through June. Net bookings jumped to $2.08 billion, up from $1.21 billion in the second quarter of 2019.

The change was largely driven by increased interest in Call of Duty amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first full quarter since Call of Duty: Warzone launched, hours played in the Modern Warfare universe increased eight-fold year-over-year, driven by both existing and new players, the company said.