The Overwatch League is coming to ESPN, ABC, and Disney channels and streaming services in a deal announced in conjunction with Blizzard Entertainment on Wednesday.
Games will be broadcast on ESPN networks, Disney XD, ABC and related streaming services through Season 2 of the fledgling esports league.
The Overwatch League begins its playoffs on Wednesday night, which is also when the multi-year deal kicks in. The OWL’s existing broadcast deals — namely with Twitch — remain in place.
Wednesday night’s opening quarterfinal matches will be available in Disney XD and ESPN 3.
Next month’s Season 1 grand finals at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., will tip off on ESPN’s flagship station.
“We are turning the corner here in terms of our interest and engagement in the esports category,” ESPN executive John Lasker said of the deal.
“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.”
Pete Vlastelica, president and CEO of Activision Blizzard esports leagues, called it a pivotal growth moment for the OWL.
“Media partners are another very important partner in [the Overwatch League] ecosystem. ESPN is invested in the growth of the NBA and now we hope they are invested in the growth of our league. That’s what makes it a significant moment.” Vlastelica said.
–Field Level Media