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Volume 26 No. 181
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Overwatch League's Home Market Move Seen As Esports' Next Big Step

The Overwatch League will begin playing in designated home markets starting in February, signaling the "next step in a potentially revolutionary vision for competitive video gaming, one in which ticket sales, team travel, broadcast rights and local partnerships will be scrutinized as much as the competitions themselves," according to Hawken Miller of the WASHINGTON POST. The move to home markets will be an "experiment not just for Overwatch, but esports as a whole." The move is an "attempt to bring in local revenue, a largely untapped market for esports." Some teams will host as many as five homestands next season, while others will host two or three. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said that team owners are "in this for the long haul," and potential challenges in "securing a fan base and sponsors for one season are a small part of the larger esports trend." OWL Commissioner Pete Vlastelica said, "Whether we're talking fans or revenue opportunities or bringing the right kinds of owners into the group, we just felt like it was a structure that had been missing in esports, frankly." Miller notes the OWL's "NFL-like structure" next season is what "drew the investment of several wealthy families," such as the Krafts and Kroenkes. Big sponsors "associated with traditional sports leagues, such as Coca-Cola, T-Mobile and Xfinity," have also invested in the OWL. The league's broadcast rights are another "potential bellwether for its future success," with streaming rights sold to Twitch for a reported $90M (WASHINGTON POST, 10/1).

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