New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his son Jonathan Kraft have always been on the forefront of technological advances in the NFL, having the first team blog and team website, and with Jonathan serving as the co-chair of the league’s Digital Media committee and playing a large role in getting the league to stream games online. Kraft and the Patriots also have a partnership with daily fantasy sports site DraftKings.
So it should be no surprise when The Kraft Group shows an interest in technologies away from their football franchise.
The Patriots owner reportedly invested what could be up to $15 million in an eSports league run by Activision Blizzard, a company known for Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo.
Blizzard released a new game called “Overwatch” which, from what I gather, is a throwback to the days of Goldeneye on the N64, but with a more collaborative team-based approach. Overwatch was incredibly well-received upon release and is considered the next great eSports game.
Kraft is no stranger to eSports and previously invested in a company dedicated to mobile eSports, so this is an arena where he wants to compete. The number of eSports teams at colleges have doubled over the past year to 900, and television deals are sprouting with both Turner and ESPN.
A Morgan Stanley report indicated that the Overwatch league could become larger than Major League Soccer (MLS) and reach the same size as the WWE if Blizzard expanded to 32 teams. Kraft must feel confident in the potential of the league if he’s willing to invest so much capital at its conception- and since he already owners the New England Revolution in the MLS, it wouldn’t hurt to add another similarly sized franchise to his portfolio.
And who knows. Maybe some day we’ll see the World Championship of Overwatch at Gillette Stadium.