Ever since the inception of the Overwatch League (OWL), Blizzard Entertainment has hoped that it would manage to establish regional fan bases while also providing greater security for players and team owners by being an eSports league that emulates the NBA and NFL. Of course, the publisher and developer also aimed to have OWL become as widely watched as possible, and it seems like a partnership with Disney and ESPN is about to help further that goal.
According to an announcement from Blizzard today, the company has signed a multi-year deal with Disney and ESPN to broadcast the Overwatch League on the network’s various channels, with regular season play and major tournaments appearing on such stations as ABC, Disney XD and ESPN 1, 2, and 3. As it so happens, OWL’s first official broadcast will be tonight, June 11, 2018 on Disney XD and ESPN 3 with the eSports league being in Day One of the quarter-finals.
Justin Connolly, the executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing for Disney & ESPN Media Networks said that the Overwatch League deal has facilitated what is “by far [Disney and ESPN’s] most comprehensive television distribution for an eSports event over a single weekend.” Connolly then went on to say, “This overall collaboration with Disney/ABC, ESPN, and Blizzard represents our continued commitment to eSports, and we look forward to providing marquee Overwatch League coverage across our television platforms for fans.”
Naturally, Blizzard agrees with Connolly’s sentiments, as Pete Vlastelica, CEO of Activision Blizzard’s eSports Leagues, reiterated how the publisher and developer will utilize this contract “to bring Overwatch eSports to an even wider audience.” With this being the case, it will be interesting to see just how many people tune in to watch how OWL’s quarter-finals transpire and lead up to the Grand Finals at Barclays Center later this month.
Should the Overwatch League manage to become a huge draw for Disney and ESPN, it would likely lead to more people wanting to invest in the eSport league in some way, which could generate some major sponsorships for the teams. Nevertheless, we will have to wait and see how this broadcast agreement pans out, and whether or not billionaire investor Mark Cuban is right about OWL trending downward overall.
Overwatch is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.