YouTube just scored a major victory in its battle with Amazon's Twitch for esports supremacy, thanks to the company behind 'Call of Duty'

Overwatch LeagueActivision Blizzard’s Overwatch League has sold out multiple arenas.
  • Google and Activision Blizzard just announced a new multi-year partnership that will make Activision’s popular esports broadcasts exclusive to YouTube.
  • The deal follows a two-year, $US90 million deal Activision Blizzard signed with Amazon’s Twitch in January 2018 to make Twitch the official streaming platform of the Overwatch League, a professional gaming circuit with 20 international teams.
  • Activision Blizzard will also use Google Cloud services to provide network infrastructure for its games.
  • Activision says Google’s cloud services will offer more stable connections for players around the world and provide more complex data analytics.
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Google and Activision Blizzard have announced a multi-year deal that will make Activision’s popular esports leagues exclusive to YouTube, and bring Activision’s games to Google Cloud.

Activision Blizzard is one of the largest video game makers in the world, with well-known franchises ranging from “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” to “Candy Crush.” More recently, the company has been investing millions into the growing esports industry, organising leagues and competitions for professional gamers.

It’s unclear how much the company’s new deal with Google is worth.

However, we do know that deals like this can be worth big bucks: In January 2018, Activision Blizzard agreed to a two-year deal reportedly worth $US90 million with Amazon’s Twitch to broadcast the Overwatch League, a 20-team international circuit dedicated to one of Activision’s most popular games. Overwatch League has performed well enough to inspire this year’s new debut of the Call of Duty League.

Activision supports esports competitions for six different games, including “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft,” “Hearthstone,” “Overwatch,” “Starcraft II,” and “Warcraft 3: Reforged.” And from now on, they will all be streaming on YouTube.

“With more than 200 million gamers a day watching more than 50 billion hours of gaming content per year, YouTube provides gamers and their passionate fans with the most popular video gaming platform in the world,” Ryan Wyatt, Head of YouTube Gaming, said in a statement. “Both the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League are the quintessential examples of world class esports content.”

Amazon’s Twitch has become ubiquitous with esports content and dominates the live streaming business. However, in the last few months YouTube and Microsoft’s Mixer have started poaching Twitch’s top talent with exclusive deals in an effort to turn the tide. Google’s partnership with Activision Blizzard continues that trend at a larger scale, taking one of Twitch’s biggest corporate partners.

“A lot of the focus in the livestreaming wars has been on the individual content creators being signed given that they make up the majority of the content in the space,” said Doron Nir, CEO of StreamElements. “However, esports events are often responsible for the biggest audiences with the two most watched channels on Twitch in 2019 being Riot Games and Overwatch League. This makes YouTube Gaming’s announcement of 3 notable leagues a significant move in terms of building their content portfolio and showcasing their commitment to the market.”

The news might be a bit of a blow to Overwatch League fans who have grown accustomed to watching on Twitch. The Amazon-owned streaming platform has a few features that YouTube lacks, like customised chat emoticons, and a clip function that lets viewers create their own highlights.

As an added part of the deal, Activision games will now use the Google Cloud for the network infrastructure that powers its games, which is essential for connecting players online. Activision said using Google Cloud will lead to less lag for players and more advanced data analytics that will help Activision adjust its games to player behaviour.

This weekend’s Call of Duty League kick-off event will be the first Activision esports event broadcast under the new exclusive YouTube deal. The event will be streaming live for three days and replays will be available on YouTube immediately after the broadcasts end each day.

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