Activision Blizzard Esports says it’s assured that it’s going to develop viewership for each Name of Responsibility and Overwatch leagues this 12 months, and it’s began rolling out new merchandise to assist accomplish that.
That is the second 12 months of the three-year, $160M USD media-rights take care of YouTube, however this offseason was the primary full one the place the edges might work collectively to plan for the upcoming campaigns, as a result of the unique pact was struck simply earlier than the 2020 marketing campaign began.
One of many principal options Activision Blizzard Esports and YouTube Gaming wish to enhance on this 12 months is account linking, one thing that Overwatch League has achieved for years courting again to its time on Twitch. CDL on the finish of final season began testing account linking for the primary time as Name of Responsibility esports historically didn’t have such a function.
Now, Activision Blizzard Esports is rolling out the operate for the complete season for CDL, and bringing it again for OWL, and YouTube Gaming head Ryan Wyatt earlier this week started to disclose the bonus gadgets that will likely be earned this season. That features weapon charms, emblems, calling playing cards and XP tokens. Brandon Snow, chief industrial officer of Activision Blizzard Esports, advised SBJ that the rewards will likely be a part of a tiered system primarily based on how a lot time one watches CDL motion and that there can even be “excessive finish” gadgets like operator skins.
CDL is getting ready to announce its slate of official sponsors for the 2021 season and is working with YouTube on new sponsorship broadcast integrations which have but to be introduced. Sponsors final 12 months included PlayStation, Mountain Dew Amp Recreation Gas, and U.S. Air Power.
Activision Blizzard Esports can also be set to unveil a brand new fantasy pick-em sport for OWL that can permit customers to enter each match (as a substitute of getting to play alongside through the entirety of the season), together with a brand new statistics instrument in collaboration with IBM and what Snow says will likely be improved broadcast manufacturing from YouTube.
After viewership figures final 12 months on YouTube that for OWL had been decrease than what the league had gotten the prior 12 months on Twitch, Snow mentioned it’s “critically vital” to develop viewership this 12 months and that he’s assured each OWL and CDL will see that progress in 2021. He mentioned that’s “not solely due to the merchandise and engagements we’re launching, but in addition the constructions of the league now and that we now have a 12 months of working remotely beneath our belt now – we discovered lots (in 2020).”
Each CDL and OWL noticed viewership begin to rise towards the top of the season; for instance, the CDL championship peaked at 331Ok viewers on YouTube, its highest mark of the season. Nonetheless, business execs wish to see the numbers develop extra as workforce house owners attempt to justify the eight-figure sums spent on franchise charges.
Snow mentioned that Activision Blizzard Esports has inner information suggesting that the account linking and different engagement instruments will assist viewership develop, although he didn’t disclose particular projections. Activision Blizzard Esports can also be relying on the addition of 100 Thieves and the return of the Optic model in CDL this 12 months to assist develop that league’s curiosity.
“We’re going to develop them each,” Snow mentioned. “I really feel actually good concerning the present we’re going to placed on.”
The CDL common season begins subsequent month on Feb. 11.
YouTube Gaming noticed important progress final 12 months because it began spending extra on esports media rights, however Wyatt additionally attributed the expansion to rises in cell gaming, from rising markets and because of keep at dwelling orders ensuing from the coronavirus pandemic.
He mentioned Name of Responsibility Esports “continues to simply surpass our expectations,” and pointed to the account linking as a “nice strategy to have a good time the connection between players and publishers.”