Overwatch is huge, and it's expected that the upcoming Overwatch League will be huge, too. So it's no surprise that Twitch was willing to fork over a huge amount of money to secure broadcasting rights for those upcoming competitions, totaling about $90 million.
The first matches of Overwatch League are set to begin tonight and, thanks to a recent deal between Twitch and Major League Gaming, half of the weekly competitions will be broadcasted on each platform. There are 12 planned match-ups per week, so that means you can watch six of them on Twitch and another six on MLG.tv. It sounds like a similar split for postseason broadcasts is also part of the deal.
This news comes to us from Sports Business Daily, who report the $90 million deal is unprecedented for eSports and likely the biggest deal of its kind. The $90 million will be paid out by Twitch over the next couple of years and, according to the report, may include ancillary terms outside of competition broadcasts.
According to the deal, Twitch plans to create additional content to supplement the competition streams, so we wouldn't be surprised to see official after-shows, weekly recaps or nightly rundowns popping up. Think Sports Center, but for Overwatch.
As a reminder, Major League Gaming is under the Activision-Blizzard umbrella these days, which is also the publisher of Overwatch. Given the fact that handling a dozen streams a week, plus additional coverage, would be quite the undertaking, we're not surprised they've decided to spread the workload, especially since there's a $90 million price tag attached to the deal. It's kind of like pretty much all other professional sports, which run on various outlets due to similar deals.
The nice thing about Twitch streaming Overwatch League matches is that the platform is available just about everywhere; I think there are refrigerators that have Twitch apps at this point. So, no matter where Overwatch and eSports fans are, they can pretty much rest assured that they'll be able to catch their most anticipated match-ups. The main downside to not going "traditional" routes is that the journey into the zeitgeist will be slower. We're sure the league will gain momentum, but not having matches broadcasted on TV means potential new fans aren't likely to stumble upon the league's existence by accident. Of course, that's where promotional efforts come into play and, again, they're just barely getting the ball rolling here.
While we're always in the mood to watch some solid Overwatch competitions, we're equally interested in watching the league itself evolve over the next year. Deals like this latest partnership with Twitch are a good start, so we'll just have to see what comes next.