Google and Activision Blizzard have entered into a multi-year partnership which sees the game publisher’s entire library of games hosted on Google Cloud. More importantly, the deal also sees YouTube gain exclusive streaming rights for a multitude of Activision Blizzard’s esports leagues. This means that Overwatch League, Hearthstone esports, and the inaugural Call of Duty League, which kicked off this weekend, will all reside on the platform.
Taking to Twitter, YouTube’s Global Head of Gaming Ryan Watt wrote,
I’m incredibly honored to announce that the Call of Duty and Overwatch Leagues will be exclusively streaming on YouTube… To see where it has come is nothing short of amazing, and I’m glad that YouTube will be supporting the leagues moving forward. This partnership further demonstrates our dedication to having a world class live streaming product for gaming creators, leagues, and viewers.”
The partnership follows the end of a two-year contract between Activision Blizzard and popular streaming platform Twitch. The site reportedly paid $90 million for the exclusive streaming rights to the Overwatch League. The financial terms of the Activision Blizzard-Google deal have not been revealed.
The partnership comes as a huge win to YouTube, who’ve somewhat struggled to get their streaming platform off the ground. While YouTube has been the primary source for uploading VODs (video on demand), Twitch has still dominated when it comes to live-streaming.
However, Twitch has been slowly losing its monopoly on gaming streams. Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevinsjust jumped ship to Microsoft’s Mixer back in August 2019. Ex-Counter Strike: Global Offensive professional Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek swiftly followed suit two months later. YouTube also hasn’t been shy about sniping streamers from Twitch. Another Fortnite streamer, Jack “CouRage” Dunlop, began streaming exclusively with YouTube Live in November 2019.
The Call of Duty League kicked off this weekend in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Overwatch League’s third season isn’t far behind, starting on February 8.