Twitter signs multi-year deal with Overwatch League

Twitter has signed a content distribution deal with the Overwatch League (OWL) which includes rapid highlight distribution during league matches and livestreaming of a weekly preview show.

The agreement was described as a multi-year deal, although the duration has not been specified. It will start on 25 August with the Overwatch League All-Star Weekend at Blizzard Arena, Los Angeles.

Starting with the 2019 season, Twitter will launch ‘Watchpoint’, a weekly preview show covering upcoming Overwatch League matches. The platform will also distribute ‘near real-time’ highlight clips from every match of the Overwatch League regular season, playoffs, Grand Finals, and All-Star Weekend. The content will be streamed on Twitter via @overwatchleague.

“From the inception of the Overwatch League, the community on Twitter has always been one of our most passionate and engaged,” said Daniel Cherry, vice-president and chief marketing officer for Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues.

Rishi Chadha, head of gaming partnerships at Twitter said: “Twitter is where Overwatch League conversations happen, and we’re thrilled to bring more content to the platform for several years. Overwatch League is one of the most Tweeted-about esports leagues on the platform, and this partnership will bolster that conversation.”

Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch has a deal for exclusive third-party streaming rights to the Overwatch League. Exclusive third-party rights grant Twitch exclusivity on outside streams and broadcasts belonging to the commercial rights-holders (first-party rights).

The two-year deal, covering 2018 and 2019, is thought to be one of the most lucrative esports streaming deals ever. It is expected to earn game developer Activision Blizzard more than $90m (€73.5m) over its duration from media rights, intellectual property rights and a share of revenue from Twitch’s distribution of in-game items and currency to viewers.

The Activision Blizzard-owned Overwatch League enjoys some prominent investors from the traditional sports world. The Kraft Group – owners of the NFL New England Patriots and MLS New England Revolution – is the sole owner and operator of the Boston Uprising OWL franchise.