Blizzard just scored a big win for its e-sports title Overwatch as the game publisher and Disney announced Wednesday that the Overwatch League will be airing on Disney’s family of networks. That includes several ESPN channels, Disney XD and ABC.
The multi-year deal begins tonight with the Overwatch League Playoffs, along with the season one grand finals next month at the Barclays Center in New York and season two next year. It focuses on live and full replays of the Overwatch competition, as well as a recap show airing on ABC. While Disney will also have streaming rights to the Overwatch League, viewers can still tune into Twitch broadcasts of the event, as that distribution deal is still in place.
ESPN Vice President of Digital Media Programming John Lasker said of the deal:
We are turning the corner here in terms of our interest and engagement in the esports category. We’ve had an interest and have been watching pretty closely how the first year of the Overwatch League has been progressing, and we’re really excited to be a part of this. 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.
ESPN also announced that the various networks plan to make the most of this deal by possibly developing “highlight packages for ESPN digital platforms or even supplemental content catered toward fans who might not be as familiar with Overwatch.” Disney and ESPN are no stranger to e-sports, nor is this isn’t the first time they’ve collaborated with Blizzard as last summer’s Overwatch League Contenders Series aired on Disney XD.
Pete Vlastelica, president and CEO of Activision Blizzard e-sports leagues, said:
It’s a cross section that’s a hardcore sports fan, especially on ESPN channels. They love watching competition, they love watching the best in the world compete at a great game. Maybe they have played video games. Maybe they know of Overwatch. Maybe they even play Overwatch or play it a lot. But they’re fundamentally looking to be entertained by the highest possible level of competition around a great game. And that’s what we’ve got.
The Overwatch League is a global competition made up of competitors from 12 different cities across the world. Day one of the Overwatch League playoffs start tonight at 8 p.m. ET as the Quarterfinals air on Disney XD and ESPN 3.