Online gaming platform Twitch has secured the rights to stream the first two seasons of the Overwatch League, Blizzard Entertainment’s all-new esports competition which is set to launch this week.
The Amazon-owned social content platform will live stream every game - from the regular season to the post-season playoffs and championship match-ups - under a deal worth at least US$90 million in total, according to SportsBusiness Journal's Ben Fischer.
Twitch's coverage will be provided in English, Korean, and French, and will cover every market worldwide with the exception of China, where a local streaming partner is likely being sought.
News of the Twitch partnership comes just a day before the launch of the Overwatch League, which will feature 12 franchises representing major cities such as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, London, Seoul and Shanghai.
In addition to showing game coverage, Twitch plans to integrate features such as the ability to purchase in-game items during its streams.
“Our fans love to engage with content on Twitch, and we wanted to drive significant viewership of the Overwatch League in its inaugural season and beyond,” said Armin Zerza, Blizzard Entertainment’s chief operating officer.
Originally announced in November 2016, the Overwatch League is based on Overwatch, a multi-player team game which is said to have around 30 million players worldwide.
It is the first major esports competition to feature a city-based structure, and among the first to employ a traditional sports franchising model.
Franchise operators - including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and Sacramento Kings co-owner Andy Miller - have paid a reported US$20 million apiece to acquire licenses.
The league's inaugural season, which begins on Wednesday, will run until June, with the playoffs and finals scheduled for July. Games will be played every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday throughout the regular season, with start times varying each day to cater to different time zones.
For the first season, all games will take place at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles. As well as on Twitch, coverage will also be provided by Blizzard’s own site .
“The Overwatch League is making a major impact on esports by reshaping the industry with city-based teams,” said Kevin Lin, the chief operating officer at Twitch.
“Given Overwatch’s consistent reign as a top viewed game by our community, we look forward to offering their pioneering style of league play to a large and passionate fanbase that will be able to bond over not only their favourite plays, but hometown pride.”