Overwatch esports returns to Twitch, but there’s a catch

Overwatch esports returns to Twitch, but there’s a catch
Image via Blizzard Entertainment | YouTube | Twitch

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch


22nd Feb 2024 14:30

Overwatch esports is officially returning to Twitch. In a blog post on the broadcast details for the Overwatch Championship Series, Blizzard Entertainment announced its return to multiplatform streaming. It also shared details on the schedule and viewership incentives for the upcoming season.

A return to Twitch

Viewership incentives for OWCS
Click to enlarge

After a four-year-long absence from Twitch.tv, the highest level of Overwatch esports competition is returning to the Amazon-owned streaming platform. The blog post confirms it will offer a multi-broadcast experience.

During the inaugural season and the second season, Overwatch League had been housed on Twitch for a broadcast rights fee of a reported $90 million for two years that included also other components of the Twitch-Blizzard relationship.

In 2020, Activision Blizzard signed a three-year deal valued at $160 million for all its esports titles, including Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Hearthstone, to be streamed exclusively on YouTube. For 2023, the deal appeared to have been renewed, at least for the Overwatch League, though terms were not reported.

After a season on Twitch, the Call of Duty League returned to YouTube for its 2023/2024 season and was met with resistance for this decision too. While a multi-streaming approach offers an improved experience to fans who favour one platform over the other, it is unlikely that a deal was struck with any of the major platforms that could subsidize the Overwatch esports ecosystem.

During a challenging economic period for esports at large, an increasing number of revenue streams appear to be running dry, requiring the search for other means of monetisation on top of significant cutbacks to the product. 

OWCS broadcast details

OWCS NA / EU Schedule
Click to enlarge

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The announcement also went into detail on the schedule of the broadcast, sharing that not all stages of the competition would be streamed. Specifically, the early rounds of the Swiss stage appear to not be covered on the official OWCS broadcast.

However, under the theme of opening up the system, Blizzard Entertainment shared that it would be continuing its Co-Streaming program, allowing both content creators and players to stream matches on the streaming platform of their choice.

Overwatch Esports Product Lead, Bailey McCann shared on Twitter that Co-streamers would be "automatically conditionally approved once you complete the form if you are in good standing."  Unfortunately for fans, content creators, and players, McCann also shared that no Replay Viewer would be available for these matches.

In North America and Europe, the action kicks off on March 1 for the non-broadcasted matches, with the first officially streamed matches taking place on March 9 and onward. You can find out all information on how to apply for the Co-Streaming program on the official blog post here

Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch is a Senior Esports Journalist at GGRecon. He's been creating content in esports for over 10 years, starting with Warcraft 3.

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