According to a new report by The Esports Observer, YouTube’s recent deal to acquire the broadcasting rights for all of Activision Blizzard’s esports leagues was worth $160 million.
Originally reporting on the deal, we wrote that: “This development marks the latest blow to Twitch, which signed a $90 million, two-year deal to stream Overwatch in 2019. Overwatch League matches were averaging 40,000 viewers toward the end of its season, according to analytics firm StreamElements.”
The report said that Overwatch streaming rights commanded a majority of the deal’s value, with Call of Duty taking up the rest. Hearthstone’s streaming rights were reportedly included for free alongside the other two games.
While YouTube may have valued the Overwatch League at the same price point as Twitch, the new deal reportedly has built-in incentives in place to provide bonuses for reaching certain viewership benchmarks.
The Overwatch League began its third season on February 8. While we do not yet have viewership statistics for the newest season, Blizzard previously announced that the league’s second season saw a viewership increase of 18% compared to its inaugural one.
The Call of Duty league began its first season on January 24. Activision has not yet released viewership statistics for the first few weeks of play.
The Activision Blizzard deal continues an intense bidding war between the three main streaming platforms: Mixer, YouTube Gaming Live, and Twitch. Last year, Mixer scooped up top streamers Ninja, Shroud, and Cloudrage from Twitch. Meanwhile, YouTube signed on Valkyrae, LazarBeam, and Muselk.
These poachings hurt Twitch in its final quarter of 2019. After three quarters of growth, Twitch finished its fourth quarter of 2019 down 10% compared to the same period a year earlier. With blows continuing into the new year, the streaming wars show no sign of slowing.
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