People close to the situation have reported that YouTube’s media-rights deal with Activision Blizzard is valued at about $160 million.
This three-year deal, a partnership between YouTube owner Google and Overwatch’s developers and publishers at Activision Blizzard, was announced last month before the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League began. The deal involves Overwatch, Call of Duty, and Hearthstone having all of their tournaments live streamed exclusively on YouTube rather than on Twitch.
It’s not known how much each game contributed to the payout from Google, but the anonymous sources revealed that the majority of the money was aimed at the Overwatch League. This is the most popular title of the three, with the most-viewed esports tournaments. Hearthstone, meanwhile, was a “free throw-in” for YouTube.
According to the sources Esports Observer spoke with, the deal includes “significant incentive clauses for ad sales and viewership targets.” The sources called these clauses “achievable.” It’s also been a source of satisfaction for the teams, since the money coming to the league and teams “could go up markedly.”
But what does this deal mean for Twitch?
According to Endeavor’s senior vice president of esports, Stuart Saw, “this is a big movement in esports history.” It’s the first time that a western game developer has decided to exclusively partner outside of Twitch.
“If you look across Google, YouTube, Cloud, Stadia, Ads — gaming is a big vertical for them. Externally, this is one of the first examples where Google’s cross-group strategy has been immediately obvious. The right hand is complimenting the left. This is a big, headline acquisition and proof of concept for both Cloud and YouTube. They’ll both be looking to use this as a case study against Amazon’s AWS and Twitch across the market,” they told Esports Observer.
While Saw said that Twitch “shouldn’t be concerned,” it’s definitely a step in the right direction for YouTube. The streaming platform has also been taking a lot of top streamers from Twitch recently, including Jack “CouRage” Dunlop and Rachel “Valkyrae” Hofstetter.