Blizzard announced this week that the Overwatch League will be broadcast on the ESPN, Disney and ABC channels. The multi-year deal covers the playoffs, Season 1’s grand finals, and next year’s second season.
Overwatch League on linear and digital television
Moving to Disney’s family of networks, the Overwatch League will come to both linear and digital viewers. While including hundreds of hours of content, the agreement will not cancel existing distribution agreements, according to the announcement.
“We are turning the corner here in terms of our interest and engagement in the esports category,” ESPN Vice President of Digital Media Programming John Lasker said. “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.”
The league’s playoffs, which started this week, will be followed by Season 1’s grand finals next month at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The companies are following a strategy of catering to a wider audience. Behind each channel stands a different demographic, and while crossovers are possible, it’s a convenience-based initiative for hooking in fans.
“[Hardcore sports fans] love watching competition; they love watching the best in the world compete at a great game,” said Blizzard Esports Leagues President and CEO Pete Vlastelica. “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.”
Expanding esports content across channels
Both ESPN and Disney writ large have broadcast their fair share of esports events. From Evolution Fighting Game Championships to the Overwatch League Contenders Series to the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship, the coverage has only increased each year.
With the current deal, the companies look to tap into the scene even further.
“We’ve been in partnership with Blizzard for a long time, and we’re rather ecstatic about taking this significant step forward,” Lasker added.
A match between Philadelphia Fusion and Boston Uprising started the coverage earlier today. The full schedule of the playoffs can be found here.
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