Overwatch League Season Two Grand Finals boasts impressive viewership growth

Published: 3/Oct/2019 18:07 Updated: 3/Oct/2019 23:26

by Dustin Steiner


The viewership figures for the Overwatch League Grand Final have been revealed, and Activision Blizzard will be pleased to learn that more people watched San Francisco Shock sweep the Vancouver Titans than Season One’s finale.

With ESL One New York taking place at the same time, there was strong competition for viewers on Twitch, but fans could also watch the OWL Grand Final on many other digital platforms – including Zhanqi, CC, Huya, and Bilibili – plus ABC on television.

The Overwatch League Grand final raked in 1.12 million Average Minute Audience, up 16% from 2018. The move from ESPN to ABC, with its extended reach, could help account for the rise in viewership. Also, the regular season had an AMA of 313,000, which is an increase of 18% over last year.

In the United States, Activision Blizzard reported an 182,000 AMA for the 18-34 demographic (up 13% from 2018) for the Grand Final.

Blizzard, Riot, and ESL have all started using AMA to report viewership to standardize the industry.

Activision Blizzard have shifted to using Average Minute Audience (AMA) to measure their viewership, something which is fast becoming a standard in esports. This viewership metric is calculated by taking the total number of minutes watched by all viewers and dividing it by the total minutes broadcast.

The reason for this is two-fold: firstly, Activision Blizzard and others are able to more accurately compare their broadcasts to traditional sports in terms that marketers are able to understand and are used to working with. 

Secondly, AMA is used to measure audiences because incidental viewers and those who might come from advertising campaigns and only watch for a quick second can be accurately measured as less valuable than an engaged viewer.

US viewership showed impressive growth year over year.

It’s this difference that Activision Blizzard says is key in dispelling the notion that viewership numbers are being artificially inflated by the League and its partners through campaigns such as Coca-Cola’s during the Overwatch League playoffs, which employed Twitch embeds as advertisements on large sites, including The Verge and Eater. 

Kasra Jafroodi, strategy and analytics lead at Activision Blizzard Esports, said: “While yes, those embeds do increase viewership numbers and uniques if a person only tunes in for a minute, they end up having a negligible impact on AMA because they are not viewing the stream for a long time. This is because AMA uses the number of minutes watched as a key part of its calculation.”

On September 19, in an interview with Dexerto, Jafroodi elaborated on the programs that were run during the Overwatch League playoffs.

“To clarify, the Overwatch League is not running ads with embedded Twitch streams,” he said. “In fact, the Overwatch League’s playoff ad campaign has revolved around a very exciting series of short animated videos. 

“The league partnered with Psyop on the creation of these videos, which have been a massive hit with our fans. Brand partners and media partners have ways of collaborating to create advertising to engage a wide range of audiences. We weren’t involved in this particular ad campaign, but we certainly appreciate the fact that our partners are helping us reach new audiences. Embeds give our partners, and the content they deploy, another channel to engage with our fans.”

Blizzard also said that neither they or their partners used any of these methods to boost viewership for the Grand Finals itself, saying that they wanted to keep the data pure for the biggest event on their calendar. 

Activision Blizzard are particularly proud of how the figures compare to traditional sports, pointing out that they are the only sports league that is growing in the coveted 18-34 market. 

“Three years after the invention of the game Overwatch, and two years from the founding of the league, we’re already competitive with these major sports leagues that have taken 60 or 70 years to get to this point,” said Daniel Cherry, CMO at Activision Blizzard Esports.

OWL boasts the only sports league that’s growing in the 18-34 demographic worldwide.

The Overwatch League is in the offseason now, with teams already dropping players on their rosters as they prepare for the 2020 season. Teams are required to have eight players on their roster by November 15, and they are currently deciding whether or not to extend player contracts for those that have options.

Next season will see teams take to their home markets for the first time (aside from Season Two’s Homestand previews) rather than playing at Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles for every game, fulfilling the original vision of the league.


Pokimane, WildTurtle headline Forbes 30 Under 30 Gaming list for 2021

Published: 3/Dec/2020 3:14

by Andrew Amos


Forbes has named the top gaming stars in its revised 30 Under 30 list for 2021, with the likes of streamer Imane ‘Pokimane’ Anys and League of Legends pro Jason ‘WildTurtle’ Tran getting the nod. They join an illustrious class of stars, including Ninja and Tfue.

The Forbes 30 Under 30 list is one of the awards you want to find yourself on in the gaming industry. It recognizes the rising stars of the industry, and those who have achieved greatness in the past 12 months.

Stars like Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins, Kyle ‘Bugha’ Giersdorf, and Turner ‘Tfue’ Tenney have topped the list in previous years. However, the class of 2020 features a distinctly different set of names from the trio who made their name in Fortnite.

Two of OfflineTV’s biggest stars, Imane ‘Pokimane’ Anys and Jeremy ‘Disguised Toast’ Wang, made the cut in 2020. While they’ve been stars for years, this year has been a huge breakout year for the duo, especially Toast.

The pair have nearly four million Twitter followers between them, as well as nearly 10 million YouTube subscribers. Among Us has only catapulted the duo’s popularity, with Toast almost tripling his YouTube following in under six months.

It’s not just the streaming stars that have been recognized. The very best esports players were also given credit for their efforts. In North America, that special honor was bestowed on League of Legends player Jason ‘WildTurtle’ Tran.

The FlyQuest AD carry made a mark on the LCS in 2020, managing to drag his underdog squad to two LCS finals and Worlds against all odds.

100 Thieves co-founder Jackson Dahl also made the list, alongside a number of developers and young owners in the growing space. You can find the full list below.

Yvonne Pokimane OfflineTV
Pokimane (center-right) and Toast (center-left) both got nods on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Gaming list in 2021.

Forbes 30 Under 30 Gaming list for 2021

  • Yang Liu: Cofounder at End Game Interactive
  • Carolina Acosta: Founder at Tragos Games
  • Gage Allen: Founder at Player One Trailers
  • Preston Arsement: Founder at TBNR
  • Rachel Feinberg and Breanne Harrison-Pollock: Cofounders at Ateyo
  • Matthew Benson: Founder at Efuse
  • Jackson Dahl: Founding Team at 100 Thieves
  • Ani Mohan and Neel Rao: Cofounders at GameSnacks
  • Hailey Geller: Marketing Manager at Xbox Games
  • Elyssa Grant: Senior Producer at Penny Arcade
  • Mariano Cavallero: Founder at HopFrog
  • Emory Irpan: Head of Publisher Operations at Unity Technologies
  • Siqi Jiang: Designer
  • Cody Matthew Johnson: Cofounder at Emperia
  • Gavin Johnson: Head of Gaming at Monstercat
  • Sanaa Khan: Program Manager at Google
  • Emma Kidwell: Designer
  • Kelly Kiewel: Director of Global Partnerships at Twitch
  • Lauren Mee: Senior Writer at Insomniac Games
  • Nika Nour: Executive Director at IGDAF
  • Imane Anys: Streamer
  • Angelo Damiano, Michael Paris, and Eric Rice: Cofounders at Powerspike
  • Graciela Ruiz: Associate Producer at Google
  • Veronica Saron: Marketing Manager at Niantic Labs
  • Albert Shih: Founder at Pillow Castle
  • Alyssa Sweetman: Director of Creator Social Impact at Twitch
  • Jason Tran: Esports Athlete for FlyQuest
  • Jeremy Wang: Streamer
  • Sam Wang: Cofounder at ProGuides
  • Maddy Wojdak: Growth Strategist at Riot Games