Overwatch League sees huge viewing figures on opening weekend

The opening weekend of the Overwatch League is behind us, and the numbers are starting to flood in. Most reported, as is often the case, has been the viewing figure so far, with the organisers and stream showing an apparent 10m views over the course of their first foray, with a peak concurrent view count in excess of 430k on opening day.

The average view count on day one was 408k, with the average over the course of the opening weekend being around 280k, putting the league ahead of not only other esports, but also some major sporting events according to a report by ESPN. This represents a huge success for Blizzard and their new product, and should bode well for the future.

The figures do obviously show an initial spike of interest which the organisers will have to work hard to maintain, but after all the negative, or at least sceptical publicity there has been over the event it still looks like a positive start. Figures from China are always hotly debated, as has been the case in other esports, and there has been a fair amount of social media chatter as to how trustworthy these stats are.

It’s worth noting that the view count represents simply views, and not unique accounts, so it’s not necessarily 10m different people tuning in, but that number of clicks on the various streams, and obviously doesn't include the small number of fans lucky enough to see the action live in the Blizzard Arena, pictured above. Twitch recently reportedly paid $90m for the exclusive rights to the English, Korean and French streams, showing that the largest livestreaming site clearly has faith in the product at least.

With week two fast approaching, and the threat of the CS:GO Major becoming more real as that event starts to increase in quality, it will be fascinating to see if the OWL can maintain this level of interest. Logically speaking, there should only be an increase in views as the quality increases naturally, and the organisers will hope that balances against the inevitable loss of views once the novelty factor wears off.

The Overwatch League is Blizzard’s attempt to create a competition around their new class-based first person shooter. One of the aspects that sets the competition apart is the existence of geographically based franchises, the majority of which were sold in the US, although that is slightly offset by the majority of top level players hailing from South Korea. The last attempt to create ‘local’ esports teams was the Championship Gaming Series, funded in part by Sky TV, back in the mid-2000s. That venture was bankrupt within a couple of years.

Image courtesy of kenzi