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OW League Broadcast Over ESPN, ABC and Disney XD

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Activision Blizzard signed a historic deal for the broadcast rights to the Overwatch League on US television. For the next 2 years ESPN, Disney XD and ABC will be covering the league events, both live and as summaries. This marks the first time esports will be shown in prime time on a major network, with the quarter and semifinals aired live on DisneyXD and ESPN 2 and 3, while the finals will be shown on both ESPN, ESPN 2 and Disney XD. The package also includes the very first airing of competitive gaming on ABC, one of the big four broadcast networks in the US, with the highlights recap of the finals airing on July 29th. This marks a huge step forward for esports and its presence in the mainstream media, and it seems appropriate for Overwatch to make this first step, as it's already pushed into the pop culture realm.

The playoffs have already started, so check out the schedule below, as well as comments from both ESPN, DisneyXD and Activision Blizzard themselves:

Blizzard LogoOverwatch League (source)

ESPN, Disney XD and Blizzard Entertainment Announce Multiyear Exclusive Telecast Agreement for Overwatch League™

 

Jul 11, 2018
 
  • Comprehensive 2018 coverage including Overwatch League playoffs and Grand Finals across ESPN and Disney television networks
  • Telecast schedules for 2019 Overwatch League content to be announced

IRVINE, Calif--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jul. 11, 2018-- Today ESPN, Disney XD and Blizzard Entertainment announced an exclusive multiyear agreement for live television coverage of the Overwatch League, the world’s first major global city-based esports league.

Beginning with Overwatch League playoff coverage on Wednesday, July 11, across both networks, the 2017–2018 Overwatch League inaugural season concludes with the Grand Finals live from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on ESPN and Disney XD July 27–28. All coverage also will be available for ESPN and Disney network subscribers to stream live on the ESPN App and DisneyNOW. To round out the 2018 Grand Finals coverage, a recap show highlighting the biggest moments will air July 29 on ABC. The Grand Finals telecast on ESPN marks the first time live competitive gaming has aired on the flagship network in primetime, and will be the first broadcast of an esports championship on ABC.

“The Overwatch League Grand Finals is by far our most comprehensive television distribution for an esports event over a single weekend: 10 total hours over four networks and three days,” said Justin Connolly, Executive Vice President, Affiliate Sales and Marketing, Disney and ESPN Media Networks. “This overall collaboration with Disney/ABC, ESPN and Blizzard represents our continued commitment to esports, and we look forward to providing marquee Overwatch League coverage across our television platforms for fans.”

“We are pleased to partner with Activision Blizzard to bring Overwatch esports to our audience. The Blizzard team has created a genre-leading esport and a premium professional franchise system in the Overwatch League,” said Marc Buhaj, Senior Vice President, Programming and General Manager, Disney XD. “We are kicking off the agreement by showcasing the inaugural season playoffs and Grand Finals live across our linear footprint. Together with our telecast partners at ESPN, we look forward to growing a legion of new Overwatch fans across the next two years.”

“We’re excited to be working with ESPN and DisneyXD to bring Overwatch esports to an even wider audience,” said Pete Vlastelica, President and CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues. “We’ve seen incredible passion and support from fans during the inaugural season of the Overwatch League, and we’re looking forward to capping it off for them with an epic Grand Finals at Barclays Center later this month.”

The inaugural season of the Overwatch League will culminate in the Grand Finals, the ultimate showdown for the championship: the first team to win two best-of-five matches at Barclays Center will take home the Overwatch League trophy and the lion’s share of the $1.4 million Grand Finals prize pool. Play begins Friday, July 27, at 7 p.m. EDT with the first best-of-five match on ESPN, and continues Saturday, July 28, at 4:30 p.m. EDT with the second and potential third series on Disney XD. This broadcast will air alongside the primary digital viewing experience on Twitch, with the Overwatch League also available via MLG.com. A re-air of day two Grand Finals play will be available on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. EDT. In addition, a recap show of highlights from the Grand Finals will air Sunday, July 29, at 3 p.m. EDT on ABC. The full telecast schedule, from the playoffs through the Grand Finals, is below.

Overwatch League 2017–2018 Playoffs and Grand Finals Telecast Schedule (all times Eastern)

                         
Date       Time (EDT)       Event       Network(s)
Wed, July 11       8 p.m.       Day 1 of Quarterfinals       Disney XD, ESPN3
Fri, July 13       8 p.m.       Day 2 of Quarterfinals       Disney XD, ESPN3
Sat, July 14       4 p.m.       Day 3 of Quarterfinals       Disney XD, ESPN3
Wed, July 18       8 p.m.       Day 1 of Semifinals       Disney XD, ESPN3
Fri, July 20       7 p.m.       Day 2 of Semifinals       ESPNEWS
Sat, July 21       7 p.m.       Day 3 of Semifinals       ESPN2
Fri, July 27       7 p.m.       Day 1 of Finals       ESPN
Sat, July 28       4:30 p.m.       Day 2 of Finals       Disney XD, ESPN3
Sat, July 28       9 p.m.       Day 2 of Finals       ESPN2 (re-air)
Sun, July 29       3 p.m.       Highlights Recap       ABC, ESPN3
                         

About the Overwatch League™

The Overwatch League is the first major global professional esports league with city-based teams across Asia, Europe, and North America. Overwatch® was created by globally acclaimed publisher Blizzard Entertainment (a division of Activision Blizzard—Nasdaq: ATVI), whose iconic franchises have helped lay the foundations and push the boundaries of professional esports over the last 15 years. The latest addition to Blizzard’s stable of twenty-one #1 games, Overwatch was built from the ground up for online competition, with memorable characters and fast-paced action designed for the most engaging gameplay and spectator experiences. To learn more about the Overwatch League, visit www.overwatchleague.com.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: Information in this press release that involves Blizzard Entertainment’s expectations, plans, intentions or strategies regarding the future, including statements about the exclusive multiyear agreement for live television coverage of the Overwatch League with ESPN and Disney XD, and the dates, events and features of the Overwatch League, are forward-looking statements that are not facts and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause Blizzard Entertainment’s actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements set forth in this release include unanticipated product delays and other factors identified in the risk factors sections of Activision Blizzard’s most recent annual report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon information available to Blizzard Entertainment and Activision Blizzard as of the date of this release, and neither Blizzard Entertainment nor Activision Blizzard assumes any obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements believed to be true when made may ultimately prove to be incorrect. These statements are not guarantees of the future performance of Blizzard Entertainment or Activision Blizzard and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond its control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.

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