US sports broadcaster ESPN has made its biggest commitment to date in esports by agreeing a multi-year rights deal for the Overwatch League.
The deal with Overwatch operator Blizzard Entertainment was announced yesterday (Wednesday) and commenced immediately with playoff coverage across ESPN platforms and digital cable and satellite television channel DisneyXD.
The 2017-18 Overwatch League inaugural season concludes with the Grand Finals live from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on ESPN and Disney XD on July 27-28. All coverage will also be available for ESPN and Disney network subscribers to stream live on the ESPN App and DisneyNow.
To complete the 2018 Grand Finals coverage, a recap show highlighting the biggest moments will air on the ABC network on July 29. The Grand Finals broadcast on ESPN marks the first time live competitive gaming has aired on the flagship network in primetime, and will be the first broadcast of an esports championship on ABC.
“The Overwatch League Grand Finals is by far our most comprehensive television distribution for an esports event over a single weekend: 10 total hours over four networks and three days,” Justin Connolly, executive vice-president of affiliate sales and marketing for Disney and ESPN Media Networks, said.
“This overall collaboration with Disney/ABC, ESPN and Blizzard represents our continued commitment to esports, and we look forward to providing marquee Overwatch League coverage across our television platforms for fans.”
The Overwatch League holds an existing rights partnership with social video platform Twitch. In January, Twitch sealed a rights deal with the Overwatch League to show the first two seasons of the competition.
Twitch, which has been a key platform for esports coverage, will stream the Overwatch League until the end of 2019.
The Overwatch League is the first major global professional esports league with city-based teams across Asia, Europe and North America.