To find out the reason why Disney partnered with the Overwatch League and what it means for E-sports, we will highlight the competitive advantages of each firm. Firstly, Overwatch Activision’s stock increased by 1.6% to $77.41 while that of
Disney rose by 1.1% to hit $107.21.
The partnership would enable games to be aired on many networks such as ESPN 2, ESPN, ABC, Disney XD, and through live streaming. Through the partnership, the Initial Season playoffs, Grand Finals, Overwatch League Season Two, and Overwatch World Cup would be aired live on television. Longtime viewers of ESPN and Disney would for the first time be able to watch professional Overwatch. New fans could become oriented to the Overwatch and E-sport Leagues thus creating a broader fan base for the Leagues across the globe. ESPN channels have ardent supporters which would make capturing them to watch Overwatch programs a big success.
The partnership was also aimed at helping the firms attain economies of scale through the collective use of infrastructure and joint investment. Overwatch customers on mobile apps would have an additional way of enjoying matches while still get more content from ESPN.
The partnership became a big leap for both firms since Overwatch League’s fans would now be able to watch the League’s action through Disney and ESPN channel. The partnership aimed to consolidate their fan base and thus create synergy to capture the growing live coverage platform. The partnership saw E-sports viewership rise from 58 million as of 2012 to reach over 100 million in 2017. The viewership is projected to hit 250 million by 2021.
After the deal was reached, the Overwatch League, the first E-sport’s championship that is based in a city became the first competitive sports challenge to be aired live on ESPN’s significant stations in primetime. The League became the first E-sports tournament to be broadcast on ABC.