Twitch and Blizzard Entertainment announced today a multi-year media rights deal for Twitch to be the exclusive third-party platform to stream Overwatch League matches.
The two-year deal will cover every game for season one and season two of the Overwatch League, including regular-season, playoff, and championship matches. The games can be watched on the league’s official Twitch channel with streams in Korean and French, though the exclusivity deal does not include China.
“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 press release. “Given Overwatch’s consistent reign as a top-viewed game by our community, 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.”
Twitch and the Overwatch League will be developing a reward system to drop in-game items for viewers. No further details were announced, but other games, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Rocket League, have enabled in-game rewards for watching tournament matches. Blizzard added character skins for every home team available for purchase in an update today.
According to a report from Sports Business Journal, the two-year deal was valued to be worth at least $90 million. While Twitch will show every OWL season and post-season game, Overwatch publisher Activision-Blizzard’s in-house platform MLG.tv will simulcast half of the regular-season’s 12 weekly games. The report says the deal is comparable in annual terms to the seven-year, $300 million contract between League of Legends publisher Riot Games and BAMTech in 2016, but was focused on “joint tech-development and commercialization” and not streaming.
The Overwatch League airs its first match tomorrow, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. ET between the San Francisco Shock and the Los Angeles Valiant. All season one games will take place at the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles in Burbank, California until June with playoffs and finals in July. The full schedule of matches can be found here.