Activision Blizzard talking with OWL, CDL teams about financial relief

Jessica S. July 17, 2020

According to a report by The Esports Observer, Activision Blizzard is in talks with franchise owners of the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League about financial support due to the economic impact of the ongoing global health situation.

Though both leagues are active and teams are still able to bring in revenue through merchandise sales and sponsorships, teams are expressing concern over the loss in revenue stemming from the lack of in-person events. This has seen Activision Blizzard enter into talks with franchise owners on how they can alleviate some of the financial pressure they face. Among the talking points is delaying franchise payment fees, a major drain of capital for all the owners in the league. 

Both titles were set to have a big year in 2020. The leagues were set to implement their homestand model, where teams would travel to different parts of the world in order to play in front of a live crowd hosted by the local franchise for every match. 

In March, both leagues cancelled all homestands and moved to an online-only format. This resulted in a scramble for a few weeks as the league adjusted their scheduling and practice regimens, but all parties found a way to make things work and the league has been hosting matches regularly for weeks. 

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The change to the business model made 2020 a crucial year to the success of CDL and OWL. While the esports business is still steadily growing, this year has proven difficult for franchise owners who have to pony up handsome fees in order to continue competing.

While the owners of the league teams are not experiencing a great time during this financial crunch, Activision Blizzard is doing well according to its stock prices. In the last six months, Activision Blizzard stock has gone from $61.24 to almost $80. 

Lockdowns and unemployment have seen player counts spike and video game sales rise steadily. 

Even though the leagues are still running games, viewership has been a constant topic of discussion. Both leagues premiered this year on YouTube Gaming, a switch from Amazon-owned Twitch. Overwatch League’s viewership has been significantly lower than in years past, leading some to question the long-term viability of the league.

Both leagues are in their infancy as far as business is concerned and they are far from alone in terms of being adversely impacted by the mass cancellation of public gatherings. OWL has its Grand Finals coming up in September, and CDL will have its Championship Weekend on August 29-30.