The 2019 Overwatch League Grand Finals take place this weekend on Sept 29 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Wells Fargo Center. The San Francisco Shock and Vancouver Titans will battle it out for the Overwatch League trophy and a $1.1 million prize. This momentous event will mark the conclusion of Season 2 and the start of a new one. Overwatch League Commissioner Pete Vlastelica was excited to examine the past year’s progress and introduce the Grand Finals.
“It’s also just great to think about everything that we’ve accomplished to get to this point in the league. [We’ve] finished the season with 313,000 average viewers during the regular season,” said Pete Vlastelica, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard Esports. “What that means, is at any given minute of live Overwatch play this year, 313,000 people around the world were watching. And that’s up 18% year over year.”
“And, so this league is growing. No matter how you slice our viewership numbers, our audience is growing and is up season over season. And if you just look at Twitch alone, our eyes [are] up 24% year over year.”
When the Overwatch League was first unveiled, people scoffed at the idea of a franchised esports league with a $20 million USD buy-in cost. Some felt like it was sure to fail since the game was ‘hard to watch’ and it wanted to follow a ‘traditional sports model’. Organizations like Complexity Gaming, Red Reserve, Team SoloMid, Denial Esports, and Splyce announced they would be releasing their teams. However, Season 3 is starting soon and viewership is still continuously growing along with each franchise slot’s valuation.
“We continue to be the fastest growing sports league in the 18 to 34 [United States] demographic, which is a highly coveted audience for for all of our brand partners. Really, the only major sports league that’s growing in that demographic, if you look across every other traditional sports league – that’s the audience that’s actually going down year over year for them. Overwatch League is the only major sports league growing in [the] 18 to 34 year old U.S. tech category,” he said.
Vlastelica went on to describe how the Playoffs viewership on Twitch was up 25 percent, along with a 19 percent increase in China. The upcoming Overwatch League Grand Finals will be “independently broadcast on ABC and Twitch”. There will also be a sold out crowd in-person. With the Overwatch League boasting a large 18 to 34 year old U.S. tech demographic, this also attracts many partners in the space. This includes companies like Coca Cola, DreamSeat, Fanatics, State Farm, T-Mobile, Tespa, Toyota, Upper Deck, and Xfinity, which will have activations at the esports event.
Follower of tech startups and finance. I write about esports in my free time.