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[Exclusive] e-sports M&As

World's 1st e-sports channel OGN up for sale; valued at $8.9 million

Viewership declined as game publishers created their own broadcasting studios.

By May 21, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

World's 1st e-sports channel OGN up for sale; valued at .9 million

OGN, a South Korean cable TV channel specialized in broadcasting video game-related content and e-sports matches, is up for sale.

According to investment banking sources on May 21, Korean entertainment giant CJ ENM, which owns OGN, is pushing to sell the cable network after hiring Samjong KPMG as its sale manager.

The deal, known to be carried out in the form of an asset transfer, including the right to operate the TV channel, is valued at slightly less than 10 billion won ($8.9 million), the sources said.

Talks are currently underway with potential buyers that include multiple media companies, they said.

A CJ ENM official said various ways on the OGN sale are under consideration, but “nothing has been decided yet.”

Formerly known as Ongamenet, OGN is the world’s first e-sports and gaming-dedicated broadcasting station.

Founded in 2000, the channel grew with formats such as the popular StarCraft leagues, Ongamenet Starleague (OSL), League of Legends (LOL) Champions Korea and Proleague. Over the last couple of years, however, the channel’s viewership declined as game publishers ventured into creating their own broadcasting studios for e-sports and other video games.

STAR PRO GAMERS

Started out with a small prize sum and very few followers, e-sports have grown tremendously in Korea, catapulting electronic gaming into a major competitive sport, with more viewers than some other professional sports.

Pro gamers at an gaming event
Pro gamers at an gaming event

With the growth of e-sports, international teams have also come to Korea in order to participate in video-gaming events and have a chance at achieving stardom while also landing a professional contract with major teams run by big companies such as SK Telecom Co. and KT Corp.

In its prime time, OGN drew as many as 100,000 spectators to StarCraft league finals held on Gwangalli Beach in the port city of Busan, featuring star pro gamers such as Lee Gi-seok, Lim Yo-han and Hong Jin-ho.

OGN was previously a subsidiary of On-Media, the parent company of several other cable channels. After a corporate merger in 2009, it became a part of CJ ENM.

CJ, which operates more than a dozen channels, including tvN, Mnet and OCN, has been putting unprofitable affiliates up for sale as part of a corporate restructuring.

Write to Jun-Ho Cha at chacha@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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