A Game to be Won

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News from Major League Gaming this week provides a definitive reason why so many programmers and even pay TV ops are hopping on board with Xbox Live, and also underscores how important it has become for the same 2 camps to find ways to stay relevant with younger demos. The video game league’s pro circuit staged gaming competitions in 6 cities this year, with competitors battling it out for a staggering $1mln in prizes. That prize pool alone should be more than enough to open the eyes of unhip curmudgeons to the popularity of gaming, but if not, consider that this season’s championship weekend presumably lured hundreds of thousands of young males away from the TV—at least for a few hours. From Nov 18-20, MajorLeagueGaming.com garnered an all-time high of 241K peak concurrent viewers, while more than 3.6mln hours of video were consumed during the period (and to think, I used to chide my buddy for playing a shoot ‘em game with headphones on, talking smack to his competition). Moreover, viewers from 175 countries tuned into the online action, and MLG said traffic to its site during the 6 pro circuit weekends soared 225% versus ’10 by averaging 641K uniques each period. Still not impressed? CBSSports.com‘s live stream of the recent Alabama-LSU game scored approx 215K uniques across online and mobile. In saying the live streams of its championship weekend garnered more male 18-24 viewers than Comedy Central, MTV, TBS and FX do in an avg 15min, MLG should dial back the rhetoric a bit. Yet it shouldn’t deflate its chest just yet, as the impressive numbers prove young men truly love the product. You’d have to believe that at least sponsorship of some MLG events by programmers such as Adult Swim would yield high scores. CH

Highlights: "Appropriate Adult," Sat, 10p, Sundance. In the UK, an Appropriate Adult is a trained volunteer who observes police interviews with children or vulnerable adult suspects to protect their rights. Emily Watson (the AA) and Dominic West (the suspect) are excellent in this dramatization of a serial murder investigation. — "Stalking the Mountain Lion," Sun, 8p, Nat Geo Wild. Naturalist Casey Anderson examines this most elusive animal in a gorgeous film kicking off "Big Cat Week," a celebration of 8 threatened feline species. SA

Worth a Look: "Good Morning, Killer," Tues, 9p, TNT. "GMK" begins with an unusual opening, but eventually becomes an acceptable police procedural, albeit one with cliched dialogue and character development. Still, willowy Catherine Bell provides much heat as an FBI special agent and William Devane is terrific as her curmudgeonly grandfather. — "Snowmageddon," Sat, 9p, Syfy. We salute Syfy for continuing to believe Sat nights were made for watching its campy horror flicks. And if you’ve imbibed enough eggnog, you’d think "Snowmageddon’s" deadly snowballs and killer icicles represent trenchant plot development. SA

Notable: Ovation always keeps its "Battle of the Nutcrackers" fresh. The 5th annual competition begins Mon 8p ET/7:30p PT, with Russia’s Mariinsky Theater in its TV debut. As always, the winner is determined by online voting and revealed Christmas Eve. SA

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