Jess Colwill, May 15, 2017

Overwatch League Aims for 'Similar Scale' to NBA, NFL

Activision Blizzard president and CEO Bobby Kotick is very confident about the scale of the as-yet-unlaunched Overwatch League, saying that the long-term goal of the company is to generate revenue of “similar scale” to the NBA and NFL.

Kotick revealed the information in the recent Activision Blizzard Q1 earnings call — the same call where it was revealed that Overwatch was now officially a billion-dollar franchise.

“Through MLG we’re building the first dedicated global channel for esports; the over-the-top ESPN of video games,” said Kotick (Activision Blizzard recently announced the creation of a dedicated Overwatch esports group using the MLG channels and infrastructure).

“To put the Overwatch League opportunity in context, around 240 million people today watch approximately 7 billion hours of NFL content annually. This drives 12 billion dollars in revenues, including more than 6 billion dollars in media rights revenues. The NBA today has roughly 75 million viewers watching around 2 billion hours total, with more than five billion dollars in revenues, and a billion and eight of those from media rights.

“With hundreds of millions of people already watching esports and playing our games, over the long term, our goal is to create opportunities that we believe could be of a similar scale.”

Kotick also believes that the massive audience will generate an equally massive engagement with Overwatch League advertising.

“We’re also going to combine delivery of our spectator content with unique advertising opportunities that includes the ability for advertisers to have better targeting and analytics, much more than what you would see in traditional forms of broadcast advertising today,” he outlined.

“And with over 400 million MAUs [across the company] and extremely high levels of engagement, our potential to generate meaningful advertising revenue is substantial.”

Blizzard is yet to make any official comment on the state or progress of the Overwatch League (other than to issue a statement last week denying reports of delays and cost blowouts and urging fans to show patience).

Jess Colwill

Jess is a writer and dog-lover from the eastern coast of Australia, who loves playing games (particularly anything by BioWare), listening to metal, baking, and fostering rescue dogs while they wait for new homes. You can find her on Twitter at @notsocryptic.