YouTube is now the exclusive streaming home for live broadcasts of Activision Blizzard’s esports leagues and events, including some of the most popular titles in the world like Overwatch, Call of Duty, and Hearthstone.
This deal is for several years, and while exact numbers weren’t revealed, you can bet it didn’t come cheap, as the rights for two years of Overwatch League alone cost Twitch $90 million back in 2018.
Total revenue for e-gaming passed $1 billion a year in 2019, so it’s not hard to see why YouTube would be interested in the space. Overwatch averaged 313,000 global viewers per minute last year, with almost 60,000 of those based in the United States alone and Call of Duty World League racked up close to 3 million total hours of content watched on Twitch in 2019, so it’s clear to see this is a very popular market.
This announcement comes on the heels of a report that the king of video game streaming, Twitch, is actively losing viewers to YouTube and after several months of Twitch’s top talent – big-time creators like Rachell Hofstetter (Valkyrae), Elliott Watkins (Muselk) and Lannan Eacott (LazarBeam) – departer the service for YouTube. Each of those streamers brings in thousands of viewers for their live streams, but provide millions more for their recorded content.
Beyond simply viewer eyeballs, what’s in this for YouTube is a rise in their YouTube Gaming brand, and a more attractive brand, of course, means more advertising money. With e-sports on a tremendous rise and an exodus of talent and eyeballs from Twitch, it’s a good time to be YouTube.