Overwatch League in landmark deal with Disney and ESPN

City-based series gets esports' first US sports channel primetime slot.

Overwatch League in landmark deal with Disney and ESPN

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Activision Blizzard has announced a multi-year broadcast deal that will see its Overwatch League esports competition air exclusively on ESPN, Disney and ABC networks in the US.

The agreement between Blizzard, ESPN and Disney includes the Overwatch League play-offs, which got underway on Wednesday, the season one grand finals and the second season of the competition.

Matches will air on ESPN, ESPN 2, Disney XD, ABC and all related streaming services for the duration of the deal. Fans will also be able to continue to watch the Overwatch League on video game live streaming platform Twitch, which secured a two-year, US$90 million agreement in January.

“Media partners are another very important partner in [the Overwatch League] ecosystem,” said Pete Vlastelica, president and chief executive of Activision Blizzard esports leagues. “ESPN is invested in the growth of the NBA and now we hope they are invested in the growth of our league. That’s what makes it a significant moment.”

In addition, the deal means that the Overwatch League, which is the first city-based esports competition, will become the first competitive gaming tournament to air live on ESPN’s flagship network in primetime, while it will also be the first esports championship to air on ABC.

“We are turning the corner here in terms of our interest and engagement in the esports category,” added ESPN vice president of digital media programming John Lasker.

“We’ve had an interest and have been watching pretty closely how the first year of the Overwatch League has been progressing, and we’re really excited to be a part of this. Clearly by the way we’re going to be covering it starting with the play-offs and the finals this year certainly speaks volumes to our excitement and our enthusiasm overall for esports moving forward.”