Former HBO Sports chief named new commissioner of World Esports Association

Ken Hershman, former president of the HBO Sports division of US pay-television broadcaster HBO, has been appointed as executive chairman and commissioner of the World Esports Association (WESA).

Hershman (pictured), who spent nearly 30 years in the sports media sector, was selected by the organisation’s board and will replace Pietro Fringuelli, who had been serving as commissioner on an interim basis.

WESA was founded in May by several leading teams from the global esports market and the ESL Pro League, in a bid to professionalise the industry by introducing player representation, standardised regulations and revenue-sharing structures. At the time it was said the organisation was to operate in a similar manner to traditional sports associations, creating schedules for fans, players, organisers and broadcasters as part of an effort to promote esports.

Hershman has also been named chief executive of the WESA Agency, the media arm of the organisation. He was appointed president of HBO Sports in January 2012 after nearly 20 years as executive vice-president and general manager of Showtime Sports at rival pay-television broadcaster Showtime Networks.

In his time as president, Hershman oversaw HBO’s boxing franchise and its pay-per-view division. He also decided which boxers the network would back and played a key role in moving fighters to the HBO pay-per-view platform. He resigned from the position in November.

“Now is the perfect time for WESA to introduce a dynamic and seasoned commissioner and we're confident Ken is the right leader to take our organisation and sport to new heights,” Ralf Reichert, WESA board director and co-founder and managing director of ESL, said.

“Ken is a true visionary whose expertise in strategy, creative and execution is precisely what WESA needs to move at digital speed to fulfil our vision to build a world-class esports association.”

The ESL Pro League for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will be the first professional esports competition that will be played under WESA regulations.

“Esports isn't just the future – it's the present,” Hershman said. “I'm excited about the challenge and confident my experience can help benefit everyone involved in WESA, including players, teams and leagues, as we work to build bridges and balance collective benefits.”