Mediarex Sports & Entertainment (MSE) said it has raised $4.9 million to “sportify” poker. The London-based company is the parent of the Global Poker Index, hoping to build poker into an esport.
The private investors include an unnamed “first-tier private equity fund” in Beijing and angel investors from telecom, sports marketing, and financial sectors in Asia and Europe.
Alex Dreyfus, the chief executive of MSE, noted that poker’s global growth from 2012 and 2013 was 17 percent, and it saw a 9.4 percent increase in 2014 in live competition entries. Digital interest in the game continues to grow as well, up 31 percent in the first half of 2015.
MSE plans to use the funds to become “a full stack sports entertainment and media operator.” It will use its own in-house video production facilities to deliver streamed poker videos and TV and live TV broadcasts of events such as the Global Poker League and World Cup globally. The hope is to create new fan experiences and raise the media profiles of professional players.
“China will likely be the epicenter of the next poker boom, and this time the boom looks to be powered by esports, the video game, media, and sports industries,” Dreyfus said. “Thanks to our new investors, we’ll be able to reach new strategic partnerships in China to help develop the sport of poker there, creating a domino effect that has globally positive effects.”
Besides the unnamed private equity fund, other investors include Stanley Choi and Donald Tang of Hong Kong, John Gleasure of London, Xavier Niel of France, and the startup’s original investors. Mediarex Sports & Entertainment was founded in July 2012. Its Global Poker Index ranks 450,000 active players from 97 countries, and it tracks 270,000 poker competitions.