Home / Technology / Pro Video Gaming is exploding in popularity, and Activision created an Overwatch League to collect – Adweek

Pro Video Gaming is exploding in popularity, and Activision created an Overwatch League to collect – Adweek

Advertisers will soon have another great opportunity to sponsor professional sports teams, but these teams will surpass it in the virtual battlefield. The Overwatch League will be launched on the Activision Blizzard MLG.tv network in January as the first foray into sports to organize professional players in city-based teams, such as MLB and the NFL.

Overwatch is part of a $ 1.5 billion sports industry, the SuperData research firm, and with its new Overwatch League, Activision is looking to increase its share of that pie in three ways, according to Laura Martin, executive director and Needham & Co. media analyst "Selling sales team franchise fees [Overwatch] for $ 20 million each, Second, there will be a live stream of live event revenue, and third, it will improve participation and enthusiasm. "

By professionalizing Overwatch, which is based on an existing game that has more than 35 million players worldwide, Activision makes it easier. for traditional advertisers to spend on esports. "It's been largely small-scale [to date]now the shows are more spectacular, the production values ​​are going up, the audience is on the rise," said Joost van Dreunen, CEO of SuperData.

Brands have used the opportunities of videogames in the past, "but they have not been able to integrate very well," van Dreunen added. [1

9659005] "We are really going to invest a lot in telling organically the story of how the two brands are supporting the league."

-Mike Sepso, svp, Activision Blizzard

"One of the things that plagued electronic sports in their organic development, especially from the point of view of brands and advertisers, was that they continually changed. term, largely because there were leagues and independent teams, and none owned the underlying rights to the games, "said Mike Sepso, svp at Activision Blizzard.

Sepso is one of the founders of Major League Gaming, which Activision bought last year, as it increased its ambitions for electronic sports. Sepso directs the Activision network unit with Steve Bornstein.

The announcements and sponsorships will be one of Overwatch's most significant revenue streams as the league develops, expects Sepso, and has already signed agreements with its first two sponsors, Hewlett-Packard and Intel.

"We are really going to invest a lot in telling organically the story of how the two brands support the league, the players, the teams and the support base," explained Sepso.

"All professional competitions will take place on HP Omen PCs, and teams will practice with them, so it is directly integrated into the sport itself," said Sepso. "HP can also use the intellectual property, brand and content of Overwatch League to help tell a story in an authentic way to players around the world who are fans of the Overwatch League." HP will produce Overwatch content, which can also be intertwined in some of the league's frames as branded content.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has said he intends to create ESPN for esports. It's no wonder that a former president and CEO of ESPN, Bornstein, is one of the top executives in the electronic sports division. And some owners of the Overwatch teams are key players in established sports leagues. For example, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is behind Boston Uprising, and New York Mets operations manager Jeff Wilpon owns the New York Excelsior.

Apparently, the company has no interest in following the traditional route of the cable network with MLG.tv. It adheres to an exaggerated distribution approach: it implies access to the online network, through platforms such as Roku and in game consoles. That fits the viewing habits of his young demo, which has an average of 20 years, said Sepso.

Activision plans to adopt a city-based approach to some of its other franchise games, such as Call of Duty, in the future. It is not clear if his rivals will do the same. Executives from Turner, Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive declined to be interviewed for this story.

Independently, the Overwatch League is likely to be complementary, rather than eroding the competition's audience bases, said van Dreunen. Speaking specifically about Overwatch and Turner's ELeague, he added: "Of course, they will be competitive, but the level of omnipresence and ubiquity will make them earn more money in the long term."

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