Game-maker Activision Blizzard struck a deal with Disney on Wednesday to air the Overwatch League playoffs on ESPN and Disney XD — premiering them that very same day.
The Overwatch League is the first city-based league for competitive gaming, with teams like the Dallas Fuel and the San Francisco Shock. Not to mention some huge name backers such as New England Patriots CEO, Robert Kraft, and Kevin Durant.
And with this deal come even more firsts
The agreement marks the first time a live competitive gaming event has aired during prime time on ESPN, and the first broadcast of an esports championship on ABC.
The multi-year deal will also air Overwatch League Season 2 next year, reportedly amounting to hundreds of hours of programming across 4 major networks.
Yes, but how do esports stack up against real sports?
TechCrunch notes that the growth of gaming stars through Twitch and the popularity of gaming in general have carved out new territory in sports media — and a new, lucrative industry.
According to Newzoo, by 2020 sponsorship revenue is expected to reach $655m, and ad spending will grow to $224m, which is child’s play vs. the NFL’s $1.3B in sponsorship revenue last year alone.
But, as they say in sports, it’s not about where you start, but where you end up, and everything is slowly coming together for esports to create an audience big enough to get advertisers’ attention.
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