Nickelodeon is among the investors in esports group Super League Gaming. Nickelodeon

For gamers, esports have traditionally been a field characterized by images of players wearing headsets intently staring at onscreen action. But now, an unlikely investor has joined forces with a major esports league: Nickelodeon.

The children’s TV network is among several investors who helped fund a $15 million Series C round into esports group, Super League Gaming, the company announced in a release Thursday.

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Other investors in the round included DMG Entertainment, Toba Capital and a group of sports team owners including NHL Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik. The round also brings Super League Gaming’s total current funding to more than $28 million.

In a statement, Matthew Evans, vice president of digital and new business at Nickelodeon, said the partnership falls in line with what the network wants to do in the field down the road.

"We are excited to enter the world of esports through our relationship with Super League, which has a loyal and growing fan base of kids," Evans said. "Nickelodeon is interested in esports because gaming is an important passion point for kids today, and forging this partnership with Super League puts us at the forefront of where kids will be playing next."

Since its founding in 2014, Super League Gaming says it hosted more than 30,000 kids in esports play over six seasons and got its start hosting Minecraft events at movie theaters. The league also launched a Minecraft tournament for kids last year and the competition awarded a $10,000 prize to its winning team.

Last November, the league also added esports stalwart League of Legends to its roster of games. Super League Gaming also features a regional structure for its leagues where individual teams are tied to individual cities.

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For Nickelodeon, the investment is a notable move for the television channel and marks its first major entry into esports. Kids competition shows are a major part of the network’s history, as with classic shows like “Legends of the Hidden Temple” or “GUTS.” Nickelodeon hasn’t announced any formal plans for esports programming yet, but the network likely wants to keep an eye on where the field goes into the future for potential new shows or partnerships.

Super League Gaming is also the latest esports company to get major support and interest from third-party investors. In the past few years, the field has seen an upswing in funding from outside firms who want to capitalize on a growing audience. Within China alone, market research firm IResearch previously estimated that the country had an esports audience of more than 116 million people. Firm NewZoo also projects that revenue from the esports field could surpass $1 billion by 2019.