ESPN to air Overwatch League finals as esports go prime
12 Julio, 2018, 08:50 | Author: Gregg Anderson
Disney and Activision Blizzard announced plans Wednesday to broadcast the OWL's playoffs and championship on ESPN, ABC and Disney XD. "And that's what we've got".
John Lasker, vice president of digital media programming at ESPN, said they are turning the corner here in terms of their interest and engagement in the esports category. After the first regular season ended, we discussed how the Overwatch League is changing the way we think about eSports, and it appears that those measures Blizzard took to make it stand out are paying off. The broadcasts so far have been on Twitch and (the Activision Blizzard-owned) Major League Gaming's mlg.tv, and they've drawn excellent numbers, including a per-minute audience of 408,000 viewers for opening day (above Amazon's Thursday Night Football streaming numbers, albeit with some caveats) and over 10 million unique users across the first week. "Clearly by the way we're going to be covering it starting with the playoffs and the finals this year certainly speaks volumes to our excitement and our enthusiasm overall for esports moving forward". Digital rights are also included in the deal, which could include "supplemental content catered toward fans who might not be as familiar with Overwatch". The first team in the finals to win two best-of-five matches will take home the league trophy and the majority of the $1.4 million prize pool. Owners such as the Kraft Group and Stan Kroenke spent $20 million per team to reserve franchise spots a year ago, and an expansion is reportedly on the horizon.
ESPN has broadcast esports several times over the past few years, including the Heroes of the Dorm collegiate competition (another Blizzard partnership), the Capcom Cup Street Fighter V finals and EVO 2017.
The Overwatch League was one of the newest, launching in January after securing franchise investments from prominent owners in the traditional sports world like Robert and Jonathan Kraft of the New England Patriots, Stan Kroenke of the Los Angeles Rams and Steve Kaplan of the Memphis Grizzlies, among others. But this is the first time all the networks have come together for a multi-year agreement.
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