USA Network To Carry Pro Video Game Tournament

Major League Gaming, where professional video game players compete in tournament settings for cash prizes, this year will for the first time televise its pro circuit event on the USA Network.

Though the MLG has been featured on television before, in documentaries and news stories, CEO Mike Sepso said that the league hopes the USA Network exposure will help the league gain cachet as a legitimate sport. "This is in the sports department for NBC-U," he said, referring to the production team handling the telecast. "The guys who produced the Olympics are producing this with us."

The tourney, entitled the "Boost Mobile Major League Gaming Pro Circuit presented by Scion," is being held April 21 and April 22 at the Meadowlands stadium in Secaucus, NJ, and will be televised late Saturday mornings from November 11 through November 23, following WWE's "Raw" professional wrestling, USA's highest-rated show.

According to Sepso, there will be heavy cross-promotion between "Raw" and the MLG telecasts, as the league hopes to capture some of "Raw"'s young, male viewership. After the Meadowlands event, MLG will hold circuits in Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

The event consists of hundreds of players, both individuals and teams, competing in two popular game titles: "Halo 2" for the Xbox and "Super Smash Brothers Melee" for the GameCube. Players compete for bragging rights, along with $800,000 in cash and prizes. Televised matches include feeds from each player's screen - providing a point-of-view of what the player is actually seeing - as well as shots of the players, and feeds from their headsets, to capture team strategizing and trash-talk.

MLG has lined up two major sponsors for the event: Boost Mobile and the Toyota Scion. Both will run ads during the telecast, and Boost has provided cell phones to each professional player registered with the MLG player's association, and Toyota is sponsoring a "Breakout Player of the Year" award where players, viewers and the MLG commissioner's office vote on the underdog player most likely to make a showing at the pro circuit. This year, the winner of the award will receive a customized Toyota Scion. In addition to its sponsorship, Boost will get original content from the pro circuit to syndicate to its mobile subscribers.

Boost and the Scion have scheduled ads during the November broadcasts, as well as on MLG's website, which streams unedited, complete footage of both the pro circuit and smaller qualifying matches for subscribers. The site also hosts interviews of prominent players and other extra footage.