Activision Blizzard Inc has announced the sale of the first Overwatch League teams for major global cities to seven entrepreneurs and leaders from traditional sports and esports.
The Overwatch League is the first major global professional esports league with city-based teams.
New team owners include:
Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots (Boston)
Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner of Sterling.VC and COO of the New York Mets (New York)
Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals (Los Angeles)
Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming (Miami-Orlando)
Andy Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports (San Francisco)
Kevin Chou, Co-Founder of Kabam (Seoul)
Bobby Kotick, CEO Activision Blizzard, said: “Overwatch already connects over 30 million players worldwide. The Overwatch League will celebrate and reward our most accomplished players and give fans more opportunities to engage with each other.
“We’re excited to be working with leaders from esports and traditional sports to celebrate our players and to establish the Overwatch League.”
Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, said: “Overwatch is a game about a diverse group of international heroes who fight for an optimistic vision of the future, and the Overwatch League is an extension of that spirit.
“We’re building this league for fans - esports fans, traditional sports fans, gaming fans - and we’re thrilled to have individuals and organizations who are as passionate about professional competition as we are, and who have extensive experience in all three fields, representing our first major international cities in the league.”
Overwatch was created by globally acclaimed publisher Blizzard Entertainment, known for iconic franchises including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, StarCraft and Heroes of the Storm, many of which have laid the foundations and helped push the boundaries of professional esports over the last 15 years.
Among Blizzard’s stable of twenty #1 games over the past two decades, Overwatch is the fastest to reach more than 30 million players. Overwatch was built from the ground up for online competition, with memorable characters and fast-paced action designed for the most engaging gameplay and spectator experiences.
The Overwatch League, slated to begin later this year, is a unique opportunity for owners and players. As the first major esports league to feature a city-based structure, the league will drive development of local fan bases.
For the first season of the league, regular-season matches will be played at an esports arena in the Los Angeles area, as teams develop their local venues for formal home and away play in future seasons. Matches will be played each Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A full schedule and information about ticket sales will be announced closer to launch.
The league will create value for team owners through advertising, ticketing and broadcast rights revenues, with teams receiving an equal share of all league-wide net revenues.
Teams will also keep all local revenues generated through their home territory and venue up to a set amount each year, unprecedented in esports; above the set amount, a percentage is sent to the league’s shared revenue pool. In addition, teams will have a license to operate and monetize up to five amateur events in their home territory each year, and to benefit from the sale of league-affiliated fan items in Overwatch, with 50 per cent of the revenues going into the net shared revenue pool for all teams.
The Overwatch League will also provide advertisers and sponsors with opportunities that are unparalleled in the esports space, with global fan bases not found in traditional sports, along with better targeting and analytics than traditional forms of advertising. Last year, 285 million people worldwide watched esports.
The quickly-growing esports audience also includes some of the hardest to reach and most sought after demographics, with a share of millennials two to three times higher than any of the ‘Big Four’ US sports.
To learn more about the Overwatch League, visit the official website at http://www.overwatchleague.com