Big news coming out of Disney and Blizzard. The two titans of entertainment have announced that starting July 11, 2018, Disney XD, ABC, and ESPN will show broadcast of the Overwatch League. Starting at that date, viewers can watch the quarter-finals consisting of the Philadelphia Fusion, New York Excelsior, Los Angeles Valiant, the Los Angeles Gladiators, Boston Uprising and the London Spitfire. This news could change how the viewing public looks at esports.
Now ESPN and Disney are not new to broadcasting esports. They even took flack a couple years back with they announced they would start doing this. This sparked the debate should esports be considered sports.
But there is no disclaiming the draw that esports brings in. The Overwatch League has been broadcasted via the live streaming service Twitch. On the opening day, Twitch drew in 10 million viewers. Since then the averages of 60,000 viewers can be seen watching the league. Of course, it should be noted that these are collected from a global audience.
Which brings into question what the draw will be from the American audience. The quarter-finals and the first day of the semi-finals will be available for viewing on Disney XD and ESPN 3. The second day will be on ESPN News and the third day on ESPN2. But the biggest news is the first day of the finals will Friday, July 27 at 7 PM on ESPN. Making it the first esports broadcast to appear in a primetime slot.
For those that have cut the cord, don’t worry. Blizzard will continue to live stream on Twitch until the end of the 2019 season. Though next season will see that each team will complete from their home city. Matches will be conducted online. As to whether or not there will be a live audience for these matches is currently unanswered.
This isn’t the only big news in esports. Epic Games, the developer of Fortnight, announced they would be hosting an 8-week long event called the Summer Skirmish Series with the prize pool totaling $8 million.
The 2K league is about to start a tournament called the Ticket. If you’re unaware of the 2K league it consists of 16 Teams made up of the best NBA 2K players. But those teams are official partners of NBA teams. The 2K league is broadcasting on Twitch, and The Ticket tournament is set to happen this weekend. The winning team will have a guaranteed spot when the playoffs begin.
With all this big new surrounding esports it comes as no surprise that esports is only going to grow. We’ve also seen bleed over from traditional sports like the NHL, FIFA, and more than likely will see more growth. Also, one can look towards Rooster Teeth when they created a show series called Tuesday Night Game Fight; when they teamed up with Bethesda to showcase the relaunch of Doom. This involved a team-up of popular video game personalities and other celebrities.
Currently, the video game market in the United States alone is projected to be a $20 Billion industry by 2020. Forbes projects that the esports industry to have a revenue of $900 million this year alone. I know that at Indiana University, journalism students are being told that they should start looking at esports journalism now. And with these statistics, it’s easy to see why. But tell us what you all think of this. Do you have an esport you love to watch?