Esports takes another big step towards the future with the announcement that the Overwatch League will come to ESPN and Disney and ABC family of networks. The multi-year deal has already been kicked off with the season 1 playoff matches as they are currently taking place. The channels will broadcast all the matches as well as the final at the Barclays center on July 29 and then will continue with the second season of the Overwatch League when it starts.
This marks the first time that an esport will receive such wide coverage through traditional sports networks, and there is probably no better esport competition to try it out with than The Overwatch League. The Overwatch League is the first esports competition that is based on geography, instead of teams of random origins taking each other on. The Overwatch teams represent their cities with names like Dallas Fuel or San Francisco Shock. This is something that American viewers are already very familiar with as it’s the same structure that most traditional sports use in the United States. This will make it easier for new watchers to find a team that they like and want to support.
ESPN’s John Laskner of Digital Media Programming had to say the following, “We are turning the corner here in terms of our interest and engagement in the esports category, 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. Clearly, by the way, we’re going to be covering it starting with the playoffs and the finals this year certainly speaks volumes to our excitement and our enthusiasm overall for esports moving forward.”
It’s important to note that he clearly says that they are excited for esports moving forward, not just Overwatch League, which could indicate that they have plans to pick up other games as well. It’s also not the first time that ESPN of Disney has dipped their toes into the esports scene, last year the Overwatch Contenders League was broadcasted on Disney XD and ESPN has covered multiple fighting game tournaments. It would be interesting to see if more games get picked up for multi-year agreements in the future.
The Overwatch League will be broadcasted on ESPN network, ESPN2, Disney XD, ABC and will also remain on the Streaming sites that it’s currently already on.