Activision Blizzard has announced a new exclusive broadcast deal with Google’s YouTube. The deal will allow YouTube to stream several Blizzard titles, including Overwatch League, Call of Duty League and Hearthstone esports.
The broadcast deal which does not cover China marks a significant step up for YouTube Gaming in their challenge to Amazon’s Twitch. The announcement comes ahead of Overwatch League Season 3 and after Twitch’s $90 million two-year exclusive live-stream deal for the Overwatch League expired last year.
What Does the Blizzard-YouTube Deal Include?
All Overwatch, Call of Duty and Hearthstone matches will stream live on YouTube Gaming according to the new deal. The details of the deal are not public yet and we don’t know the duration of this deal. Blizzard’s broadcast deal with Twitch lasted for two years ending with Overwatch League Season 2.
How Much Did YouTube Pay for Exclusive Streaming Rights?
Blizzard’s previous exclusive live-streaming deal with Twitch was worth nearly $90 million ($45 million annually), according to reports. With the conclusion of the deal, Blizzard received significant interest from other parties in signing an exclusive deal for their titles, according to Activision Blizzard Esports CEO, Pete Vlastelica.
The Overwatch League has seen the exit of several top tier talents in the past few weeks. While some talents have left due to personal reasons, several talents left due to disagreements with the League’s vision going ahead.
Vlastelica feels prophecies of Overwatch League doom are blown out of proportion. The lack of any major announcement from the League has fuelled these doomsday predictions, but they couldn’t be further from the truth.
(It’s) been a while since we’ve had an announcement of our own, there’s a lot of anticipation for our media-rights announcement, and what has happened in the absence of our news from the league is certain segments of the community have filled in the discussion around OWL and it hasn’t all been positive.
I would say we’re still pretty focused on what we need to do this year.
Blizzard’s new broadcast deal with YouTube Gaming covers three esports titles. The game developer has not revealed the details of the deal, but it is surprising to see them bundle the three titles together.
Overwatch League Season 3
The Overwatch League Season 3 kicks off on February 8, 2020, and will continue till August 9. Season 3 is the first year that Overwatch League teams will play in the Home and Away format. The first two seasons took place in Los Angeles, giving the franchise owners time to prepare their home venues for Season 3.
Overwatch League Season 3 features twenty teams from various parts of the world. All twenty teams will play 28 matches throughout the season, with each match comprising four-map sets.
San Francisco Shock won Overwatch League Season 2, after a dominating 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Titans in the Grand Finals.
Call of Duty League
The Call Of Duty League kicked off on January 24 and will end in August. The Call of Duty League features a $6 million prize pool and will feature twelve teams competing for the glory and the prize money. The twelve teams include teams from all over the world, including a team from London and one from Paris.
Is YouTube Gaming the Right Choice for Activision Blizzard?
Twitch holds the monopoly on the live-streaming market, but it has come under pressure from Microsoft’s Mixer and Google’s YouTube. For the average gaming viewer, a shift to YouTube is more convenient due to the familiarity of the service. YouTube already boasts the most extensive library of gaming videos on the internet and many Twitch viewers regularly use YouTube to see gaming videos.
However, YouTube lacks an essential part of watching a live stream on twitch. The nefarious Twitch Chat has grown into a subculture that has a profound effect on the overall viewing experience. It will be interesting to see how much impact the shift to YouTube Gaming has on OWL’s viewership numbers.
The Call of Duty League saw an average of around 90,000 viewers on Day 1, although the numbers might decline in the upcoming weeks.