The agreement (which excludes China) promises to give a big boost to YouTube Gaming, the video giant’s dedicated home for all things related to games. It’s also a loss for Amazon’s Twitch, the leader in the e-sports and live-streaming gaming space, which had previously been the exclusive streaming partner for the Overwatch League. Twitch’s two-year deal for Overwatch League streaming was worth at least $90 million, per a Sports Business Journal report.
YouTube’s deal with Activision Blizzard kicks off immediately: YouTube is hosting the official live broadcasts of Activision Blizzard’s inaugural Call of Duty League season starting Friday, Jan. 24. The e-sports tournament will feature 12 teams competing in Minnesota. Overwatch League’s 2020 season will follow on Feb. 8.
All of the Activision Blizzard competitions will be live-streamed on each league’s YouTube channel and will include archived and other special content. According to YouTube, more than 200 million users daily watch gaming content on the site, amounting to more than 50 billion hours per year.
“Both the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League are the quintessential examples of world-class e-sports content,” said Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s head of gaming, in a statement. “As a former Call of Duty e-sports commentator myself, I couldn’t be more excited for Activision Blizzard to choose YouTube as its exclusive home for the digital live streaming of both leagues. This partnership further demonstrates our dedication to having a world class live streaming product for gaming.”
Pete Vlastelica, CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports, added that the YouTube pact will combine “our passionate communities of fans and players with YouTube’s powerful content platform and exciting history of supporting next-generation entertainment.”
In addition to YouTube’s exclusive rights to Activision Blizzard live events, the gaming company struck a multiyear agreement with Google under which Google Cloud will serve as the preferred provider for Activision Blizzard’s game hosting infrastructure. According to Activision Blizzard, it will be able to tap into Google Cloud’s artificial-intelligence tools to offer curated recommendations for in-game offers and differentiated gaming experiences.
Pictured above: Overwatch League Grand Finals 2018 competition in Brooklyn featuring Philadelphia Fusion vs. London Spitfire