Activision Blizzard decided in 2020 to show its eSport exclusively on YouTube instead of on Twitch. At the first weekend of the Overwatch League, almost a third of the audience was missing compared to Twitch.
That was the situation: For 2018 and 2019, Activision Blizzard had concluded a deal with Twitch to exclusively show the games of the Overwatch League there. The Overwatch League was one of the largest channels on Twitch with the most viewer hours over the year in those years.
But this exclusive deal with Twitch now expired. Activision Blizzard announced at the end of January that they had closed a new, exclusive deal with Google and thus YouTube Gaming.
From 2020, all Activision Blizzard eSports events and leagues will be broadcast exclusively on YouTube:
- so Hearthstone
- the new call-of-duty league
- the established Overwatch League, the prestige project in Activision Blizzard’s eSports
Overwatch Liga loses about a third of its viewers
This is how the first weekend went on YouTube: The Overwatch League started on Saturday, February 8th. The US site Dotesports compared the numbers of the opening weekend of the Overwatch League 2020 on YouTube with those of 2019 on Twitch:
- In 2019 there were 63 hours of Overwatch in 4 days – 16 matches were played. Viewers watched Twitch for 6.16 million hours.
- In 2020 there was only 16 hours of Overwatch – only 8 matches were played. Just over a million hours were seen.
Comparing the number of hours seen is unfair because 2019 saw 4 times more Overwatch.
But what you can compare is the average number of viewers:
- In 2019, the OWL had an average of 97,168 viewers on Twitch on the first weekend
- In 2020, the Overwatch League had only 63.505 on YouTube
Why is that?
Dotesports notes that there was a sharp drop in concurrent viewers when the action moved from New York to Dallas. Overwatch would have lost about 30,000 simultaneous viewers here.
Many viewers probably did not take part in the switch to another broadcast, which would have disturbed the viewer experience.
Another reason for the loss of viewers is that there were rewards on Twitch for Overwatch players watching the eSports players . This reward is missing on YouTube.
The Overwatch League is particularly important to Blizzard this year. 2020 was actually the year in which the league really started.