Ever since Activision purchased Major League Gaming, many have wondered if the investment would pay off. The publisher recently put all speculation to rest with a decisive “yes,” as it reported that the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Championship (also known as CS:GO Major), held at the Nationwide Arena, has set a new record for viewership. The broadcast, which aired earlier this month, has managed to generate 71 million video views, with fans tuning in to a record-breaking 45 million hours of live broadcast. It also maintained a steady amount of concurrent viewers, with 1.6 million watching the proceedings.

These numbers break the previous CS:GO Major record of 34 million hours viewed and 1.3 million concurrent viewers gained last year.

“Last year, more than 225 million people watched competitive gaming, and the passion, engagement and size of this audience only continues to grow,” said Mike Sepso, senior vice president of Activision Blizzard Media Networks and Major League Gaming, in a press statement. “As this year’s CS:GO Major numbers show, Activision Blizzard Media Networks’ commitment to broadcasting premium content and creating incredible events is resonating with players and fans around the world.”

This could be the beginning of big things for Activision’s eSports division. To gain more insight, [a]listdaily spoke with Sepso regarding the results of the Major tournament, as well as what fans can expect next.

Mike_SepsoWhat do these numbers say about Activision Blizzard’s investment in Major League Gaming and the company’s prospects for its eSports division?

We’re incredibly proud of the record-breaking numbers from the CS:GO Major in Columbus, and I think it reinforces that the investment was an important step toward our goal of bringing eSports into the mainstream through premium broadcasts, organizing world class events, and expanding our distribution platforms. The eSports audience is estimated to be bigger than audiences for many professional sports leagues in a few years, and I think the Media Networks division is uniquely positioned to strengthen Activision Blizzard’s leadership in the space.

What do you think the biggest draw was regarding the CS:GO Major championship? 

There were a number of great storylines leading up to this specific event. It was the first North American Major, it had the most North American teams to ever qualify going up against eight legendary teams, and it wound up being won by an underdog in Luminosity Gaming from Brazil. I think a lot of the continued success CS has seen over the years is also a testament to Valve creating a great game for eSports, and driving community interaction via unique souvenir drops and skins for the events.

What factors do you think will tie in with the future of eSports? Will Activision Blizzard Media Networks be following these every step of the way?

Activision Blizzard has a rich history in eSports, and now we’ve added the additional support of Major League Gaming’s experts and technology to help guide the way forward with the ultimate goal of making eSports more mainstream. I think there will be shifts in the way broadcasts are presented, the organization of global league play, and how that data is organized and used to create the best-in-class fan experiences. Social media created a seismic shift in the industry, and in some respects, it’s made our jobs easier because we can quickly and transparently communicate with the community as events are happening to make adjustments to the broadcast or the schedule that better the experience.