Disney Goes All-In on Future of eSports

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Disney is placing a big bet on the future of video games by signing a landmark TV deal to broadcast the Overwatch eSports league.

The world of competitive video gaming has evolved over recent time and now fans will get to watch it on their television thanks to the new deal between ESPN and Bobby Kotick’s Activision Blizzard.

The multi-year deal brings the Overwatch League playoffs and finals to ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2 and Disney XD. It will mark the first time eSports have aired on ABC and the first time ESPN has carried the event in primetime.

“The Overwatch League Grand Finals is by far our most comprehensive television distribution for an eSports event over a single weekend.”

 – Justin Connolly, Exec. Vice President of Disney and ESPN

eSports began gaining traction in 2017 during a League of Legends competition that garnered 360 million viewers. The global interest is now drawing interest from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is considering making eSports and Olympics event.

Here’s a breakdown of 2017 viewership:

  1. League of Legends competition (digital) – 360,000,000
  2. Super Bowl (broadcast) – 111,300,000
  3. NBA Finals (broadcast) – 30,000,000

The 2018 Overwatch quarterfinals, which feature teams from around the world, started on July 11. The Grand Finals will take place on July 27 and 28 at the Barclays Center and will air on ESPN and Disney XD.

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