Activision Blizzard has sold the first seven team slots for its Overwatch League. Slated to begin later this year, the company claims that the league, based around the hit team-based FPS game Overwatch, will be the first to feature a city-based structure. The first seven teams will represent Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Miami-Orlando, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Seoul.
Activision Blizzard argues the league will create value for team owners through advertising, ticketing and broadcast rights revenues, with teams receiving an equal share of all league-wide net revenues. Teams will also keep all local revenues generated through their home territory and venue up to a set amount each year, something the company claims is unprecedented in eSports. In addition, teams will have a license to operate and monetize up to five amateur events in their home territory each year, and to benefit from the sale of league-affiliated fan items in Overwatch. In terms of net, 50% of the revenues from fan items and an unspecified amount from local revenues will go into net shared revenue pool for all teams.
The Overwatch League is also meant to provide advertisers and sponsors with new chances to display their wares to more eyeball, especially since global eSports fan bases not typically found in traditional sports. Activision Blizzard is also offering better targeting and analytics through the league than that found traditional forms of advertising.
“Overwatch already connects over 30 million players worldwide. The Overwatch League will celebrate and reward our most accomplished players and give fans more opportunities to engage with each other,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “We’re excited to be working with leaders from eSports and traditional sports to celebrate our players and to establish the Overwatch League.”
“We have been exploring the eSports market for a number of years and have been waiting for the right opportunity to enter,” said Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group, the New England Patriots, and the heretofore unnamed Boston Overwatch team. “The incredible global success of Overwatch since its launch, coupled with the League’s meticulous focus on a structure and strategy that clearly represents the future of esports made this the obvious entry point for the Kraft Group.”
For the first season of the league, regular-season matches will be played at an eSports arena in the Los Angeles area, as teams develop their local venues for formal home and away play in future seasons. Matches will be played each Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A full schedule and information about ticket sales will be announced closer to launch.