It came down to the wire, but the Overwatch League has secured a multi-year distribution deal with Twitch. The deal ensures that every match of the global, city-based e-sports league will be readily available to a global audience.
“The Overwatch League is making a major impact on esports by reshaping the industry with city-based teams,” said Kevin Lin, COO of Twitch, in a statement. “We look forward to offering their pioneering style of league play to a large and passionate fanbase that will be able to bond over not only their favorite plays, but hometown pride.”
The agreement names Twitch as the exclusive third-party digital provider for OWL regular season, playoff and championship matches worldwide, excluding China, for the next two years. The two-year period will include the league’s first two seasons. Streams will be presented in English, French and Korean.
The deal comes less than 48 hours before the league was set to begin its inaugural season. Many had wondered if the deal would get done in time, with speculation being that matches would be streamed on Activision Blizzard’s in-house site MLG.tv if a deal hadn’t been reached in time. However, MLG president Pete Vlastelica continually insisted that a deal with Twitch would be in place by the Jan. 10 starting date.
Though the deal is done, the down-to-the-wire nature of the its completion did impact the ability of the league’s franchises to secure individual sponsorship deals. Speaking to SportsBusiness, San Francisco Shock owner Andy Miller said, “I’ll be honest, it would have been easier to get sponsors if we could have said ‘this is our distribution partner’ a month ago, but it is what it is.” To date, only one team, the Dallas Fuel, had announced a jersey logo sponsor.
The agreement also lays out a plan for implementation of fan rewards for viewers. Additional details will be announced as these rewards become available, but exclusive OWL Cheermotes and in-game items look to be possibilities. “Our fans love to engage with content on Twitch, and we wanted to drive significant viewership of the Overwatch League in its inaugural season and beyond,” said Armin Zerza, COO of Blizzard Entertainment.
Everything now seems to be set for the inaugural season of the Overwatch League to kick off on Jan. 10 from the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles in Burbank, Calif., which can be viewed live on Twitch. The full league schedule and ticket information can be found here.