Esports on ESPN: Overwatch championship to air in prime time - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Esports on ESPN: Overwatch championship to air in prime time

By JAKE SEINER
AP Sports Writer

Esports are coming to ESPN.

The network will air the inaugural Overwatch League Grand Finals in prime time this month as part of a multiyear agreement to bring esports to the biggest sports platform on American television.

Disney and Blizzard Entertainment announced plans Wednesday to broadcast the OWL's playoffs and championship on ESPN, ABC and Disney XD. The Grand Finals on July 27 will be shown live on ESPN, marking the first time the network will carry esports in prime time.

"We think that really reflects the commitment they're making to the category," said Pete Vlastelica, President and CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues.

Coverage begins Wednesday with the playoffs on Disney XD and ESPN3. There will be 10 hours total of Grand Finals coverage, including a recap show July 29 on ABC. Disney's networks will also broadcast OWL matches next season. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

Overwatch is a team-based first-person shooter, with two teams of six players competing over various objectives. The OWL has city-based teams in four countries, including nine US franchises plus teams in London, Seoul and Shanghai. The league plans to expand after its first season.

"There's no doubt that this partnership will increase the reach of our league content," Vlastelica said. "And open up, have access to a new audience that maybe doesn't spend so much time streaming content online, but who has heard of esports and is familiar with gaming and who's a big sports fan."

The playoffs will take place at Blizzard's esports arena in Burbank, California, and the Grand Finals will be held at the Barclays Center in New York.

The OWL had been streaming all matches on Twitch, a livestream platform owned by Amazon, and it will continue to provide simulcasts there through at least 2019. The league signed a two-year agreement with Twitch prior to this season and drew 10 million viewers to the platform on its opening weekend, besting Amazon's NFL "Thursday Night Football" numbers from the 2017 season.

This won't be ESPN's first foray into events that aren't strictly sports. Its programming has included the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the World Series of Poker and the Drum Corps International championship. ESPN also aired part of the FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series in 2017, and it previously partnered with Blizzard Entertainment on "Heroes of the Dorm," an esports tournament for college gamers.

Esports have made headway into the mainstream over the past year, with the International Olympic Committee stating its interest in adding video games last fall. The IOC is set to host an esports forum this month to explore adding video games to the Olympics.

___

Follow Jake Seiner on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jake_Seiner

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • NationalMore>>

  • Elon Musk apologizes for calling cave rescue diver a 'pedo'

    Elon Musk apologizes for calling cave rescue diver a 'pedo'

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 3:50 AM EDT2018-07-18 07:50:30 GMT
    Wednesday, July 18 2018 10:03 AM EDT2018-07-18 14:03:16 GMT
    In a series of tweets late Tuesday, the Tesla CEO said he had "spoken in anger" on Sunday after diver Vern Unsworth criticized him and SpaceX engineers. (Source: CNN)In a series of tweets late Tuesday, the Tesla CEO said he had "spoken in anger" on Sunday after diver Vern Unsworth criticized him and SpaceX engineers. (Source: CNN)

    In a series of tweets late Tuesday, the Tesla CEO said he had "spoken in anger" on Sunday after diver Vern Unsworth criticized him and SpaceX engineers.

    More >>

    In a series of tweets late Tuesday, the Tesla CEO said he had "spoken in anger" on Sunday after diver Vern Unsworth criticized him and SpaceX engineers.

    More >>
  • With Trump endorsement, Roby tries to fend off GOP challenge

    With Trump endorsement, Roby tries to fend off GOP challenge

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 12:35 AM EDT2018-07-17 04:35:12 GMT
    Wednesday, July 18 2018 9:42 AM EDT2018-07-18 13:42:54 GMT
    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File). FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2012, file photo, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, following a GOP strategy session. Roby is seeking Republican redemption in a runoff election th...(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File). FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2012, file photo, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, following a GOP strategy session. Roby is seeking Republican redemption in a runoff election th...
    Once a Trump critic, GOP congresswoman Martha Roby seeks redemption in Alabama runoff.More >>
    Once a Trump critic, GOP congresswoman Martha Roby seeks redemption in Alabama runoff.More >>
  • MGM sues Vegas shooting victims in push to avoid liability

    MGM sues Vegas shooting victims in push to avoid liability

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 2:31 PM EDT2018-07-17 18:31:22 GMT
    Wednesday, July 18 2018 9:42 AM EDT2018-07-18 13:42:51 GMT
    MGM Resorts International has sued hundreds of victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in a bid to avoid liability for the gunfire that rained down from its Mandalay Bay casino-resort in Las...More >>
    MGM Resorts International has sued hundreds of victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in a bid to avoid liability for the gunfire that rained down from its Mandalay Bay casino-resort in Las Vegas.More >>
Powered by Frankly