Twitch and Activision Blizzard have reached a reportedly $90 million dollar agreement for Twitch to have the exclusive broadcasting rights for the upcoming Overwatch League (the first match of which is to be broadcast on Twitch this evening). The exclusive rights are for a two year period, making this to be the single biggest year-to-year broadcasting deal in the history of esports.
This is important from a legal perspective for a couple different reasons. First, as reported by various news sources, the lack of a standard broadcasting agreement was causing difficulties finding sponsors for the franchised teams. As is a running theme in many of my posts, consistency is king in the business world. Now that Twitch has been confirmed as the exclusive broadcaster for all Overwatch League matches (sidenote: Major League Gaming will be streaming some matches simultaneously), advertisers and potential sponsors for teams will be able to have a metric to measure the potential advertising bang for the buck. Twitch releases metrics of viewer count, and already has a strong backing for advertisers (hint: Twitch is owned by Amazon). With the consistency and reliability of an Amazon backed company, sponsors will be less considered about Twitch's ability to deliver on their promises. In a nutshell, advertisers will likely get the product they were offered--a win-win for the parties involved.
This news is also important due to the very extent of the announcement. Growth in the esports scene, through the infusion of outside money and sponsors, will inevitably cause esports as a whole to grow. Where there is more money, expect there to be more need of legal services in the esports industry. I expect to have additional material related to the Overwatch League to report on in the future, whether with player contract issues, or with disputes between teams and sponsors. This is a wild time in the esports industry, and all signs point to an oncoming period of significant growth. While there are sure to be growing pains, it is my hope that professionals from other industries are able to mitigate the worst of the potential controversies.
Author note: I am planning on doing an article series on esports player contract templates and the creation process in the near future. Stay tuned!