The Overwatch League is going mainstream, with an exclusive multi-year agreement between Disney and Blizzard for live coverage of the eSports league on ESPN, ESPN2, Disney XD, and ABC.
The deal to broadcast the Overwatch League starts with the inaugural playoffs, which started on July 11, and will include the first Grand Finals, the Overwatch World Cup, and the entire second season.
Overwatch League Enters Mainstream
The agreement between Disney and Blizzard involves hundreds of hours of Overwatch League live and highlight programming over the four networks. In addition, the eSports league will still continue with existing distribution arrangements, such as with Twitch.
"We are turning the corner here in terms of our interest and engagement in the esports category," said John Lasker, the VP of digital media programming for ESPN. "We've had an interest and have been watching pretty closely how the first year of the Overwatch League has been progressing, and we're really excited to be a part of this."
The Overwatch League playoffs will be broadcast on ESPN and Disney XD, including the Grand Finals that will be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on July 27 and July 28. ESPN and Disney network subscribers will be able to stream the matches live through the ESPN and DisneyNOW apps. In addition, after the Grand Finals, ABC will air a recap show on July 29 that highlights the biggest moments of the culmination of the Overwatch League's first season.
The Overwatch League will be the first live competitive gaming event that will be broadcast on ESPN in primetime. It will also be the first time that an eSports championship will air on ABC.
Overwatch League Playoffs And Grand Finals
Several months and hundreds of matches later since the inaugural season launched in January, the Overwatch League playoffs are now underway.
The Overwatch League is divided into two divisions, the Pacific Division and the Atlantic Division. The top teams of each division, namely the Los Angeles Valiant from the Pacific Division and the New York Excelsior from the Atlantic Division, are automatically in the best-of-three semifinals. Battling it out in the best-of-three quarterfinals are the Boston Uprising against the Philadelphia Fusion and the Los Angeles Gladiators against the London Spitfire.
The two teams that will emerge from the semifinals will move to the best-of-three Overwatch League Grand Finals. The winner will be crowned the first ever Overwatch League champion and will take home a grand prize of $1 million.