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Blizzard to use streamers to boost Overwatch League viewership

Quentyn K. August 2, 2019

With Overwatch League’s declining viewership keeping Activision Blizzard up late at night, the company is seeking outside help to draw crowds back to the game.

Blizzard will look to partner with platforms like Twitch to strengthen its relationship with streamers and will execute strategies to increase the league’s visibility, Dexerto reports.

At its most basic level, the agreement essentially offers “bounties” for select Twitch streamers who are willing to send their accumulated viewers over to Overwatch League broadcasts. This would happen in the form of raids, the name for the practice of one channel hosting another as it goes offline, sending the former channel’s viewers over to the hosted video stream.

Blizzard could take things a step further and run in-game or community events and get popular streamers to take part in them.

This tactic alone won’t launch Overwatch League’s numbers into the stratosphere. Blizzard still has the task of keeping users interested in watching the competition after their favorite streamers ship them off.

Blizzard is opting to focus on popular streamers who have some sort of history with the game. It’s lower risk than paying top dollar for outsider personalities like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins to play, and the niche requirement gives Blizzard a higher chance to convert those new viewers into permanent spectators.

While the circumstances and end goal are entirely different, Electronic Arts’ use of this strategy was vital to the instant success of Apex Legends. EA paid millions for first-person shooter streaming stars like Michael “Shroud” Grzsiek and Guy “Dr. Disrespect” Beahm to play the game at launch.

Apex Legends couldn’t keep up with Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds over the long haul, but the tactic helped to make the game a mainstay in the battle royale genre. And since most players have found the game to be fun, streamers continue to help pad the numbers without the need for any further kickbacks.

Blizzard will enjoy those benefits on some level for Overwatch League viewership, but it’s trying a multitude of things to win more interest. Homestand events for Overwatch League Season 3 will see teams compete at venues fixated in the very cities those teams represent, and Blizzard is looking into additional ways to incentivize fans to attend those live competitions. It will also address a stale meta by enforcing a 2-2-2 role lock that should make Overwatch much more interesting to watch and play.

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