The inaugural season of the Overwatch League has been a hit for publishing overlords Activision Blizzard.
In the firm's earning call last night, CEO Bobby Kotick said that the league is thriving and players getting a great deal of mainstream media. Not all of that, however, is positive, something that has made sponsors Omen by HP 'nervous'.
The exec said that the process of selling its next round of Overwatch League teams is underway. The Overwatch League operates on an NFL-style franchise model; teams for the first year of the esports tournament went for $20m a piece with this expected to triple for year two.
"We continue to be the leading innovators in professional esports," Kotick said, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha.
"The inaugural regular season of the Overwatch League is progressing well, with millions of viewers each week and average viewing time of over an hour, which provides our multiple global broadcast partners and sponsors with access to a highly engaged and hard-to-reach audience.
"The Overwatch League continues to thrive, and our players are getting even broader recognition of their incredible talents in mainstream media. We see even greater opportunity with the playoffs and Grand Finals still to come. And we've begun sales of our next round of Overwatch League teams. And over time, we believe our esports initiatives could rival traditional sports for audience interest, advertiser interest, sponsors, ticket sales, and merchandise sales, both virtual and physical."
President and COO Coddy Johnson added that esports is a focus for Activision Blizzard and that the base Overwatch game continues to see strong engagement.
"Overwatch continues to grow its community and engagement remains strong, with the most recent seasonal event, Retribution, having the highest participation rate to date. Now Overwatch's performance is driven by a commitment to the player community. And with its ongoing stream of seasonal events, maps, and heroes, Overwatch was recently recognized as the world's best evolving game.
"To that end, Overwatch has now added new and innovative links between the game and the spectating experience for Overwatch League, which brings me to our second pillar, deepening engagement. Esports is, as you know and as Bobby said, a priority for the company. It's where we celebrate player achievement and community passion and provide awesome spectating experiences for a rapidly growing number of esports fans, nowhere more so than Overwatch League, which continues to reach millions each week.
"We are seeing increased engagement for the franchise overall, with the hours combined spent playing and watching Overwatch growing quarter over quarter. And as Bobby said, this is even before the playoffs and Grand Finals later this summer. Overwatch League and its partners also introduced new engagement programs like token drops, cheermotes, and the new Twitch league pass, which deliver even better viewing experiences and new revenue opportunities.
"And given all this progress, there is very strong demand for Overwatch League expansion teams. The league will therefore be highly selective in this approach, adding just a handful of teams in key strategic markets by end of year. More broadly, building out the Overwatch League allowed the company to develop a unique set of capabilities and infrastructure, and we plan to begin applying them to other franchises in the near future, including to Call of Duty. To that end, Call of Duty's 2018 World League completed its first phase in mid-April and continues to have strong viewership, with cumulative hours watched doubling year over year."