- Activision Blizzard and Google signed a multiyear deal to livestream the game publisher's esports events on YouTube Gaming. The companies announced the collaboration with the first livestream of Activision's new Call of Duty League on Jan. 24, and will work together on Overwatch League and Hearthstone Esports events, among others, per an announcement.
- Activision Blizzard will launch the 2020 season of the Overwatch League with a YouTube livestream on Feb. 8. Google's YouTube not only is livestreaming the esports events, but also is hosting archived and other special content on each league's channel on the video-streaming site.
- As part of their collaboration, Google Cloud will host Activision Blizzard's esports content. Google's cloud computing platform offers data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to provide customized recommendations and gaming experiences, along with in-game offers.
Activision Blizzard's collaboration with Google means that mobile marketers who are familiar with advertising on YouTube will have more occasions to reach the growing audience for esports entertainment. In its announcement, YouTube said 200 million gamers a day watch gaming content on YouTube, totaling 50 billion hours a year, an enticing platform for advertisers seeking to reach audiences who are watching less traditional TV. Unlike broadcast TV that reaches a mass audience, YouTube has sophisticated ad-targeting tools that can help marketers reach highly customized audiences based on their interests and viewing habits.
The global reach of esports has grown to more than 443 million people, with projected revenues of $1.1 billion, per research from Green Man Gaming. More than 100 million unique online viewers watched last year's world championship finals for "League of Legends," the arena battle video game by Riot Games, making its audience bigger than the 98 million for last year's Super Bowl.
The collaboration also gives marketers an expanded livestreaming venue for sponsorship opportunities amid a field that has grown more crowded in the past decade. Amazon Twitch, Facebook Gaming and Microsoft's Mixer are vying for exclusive content and influencer talent to drive viewership and higher engagement for advertisers.
Facebook last month boosted viewing times of gaming livestreams 210% from a year earlier, outpacing the growth for Twitch, YouTube Gaming and Mixer, per a study by StreamElements and Arsenal.gg. Facebook's gains were partly attributed to its efforts to lure away influencers from other platforms like Twitch. The social network in the past few months recruited Jeremy "DisguiseToast" Wang, Instagram model Corrina Kopf and streamer Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios to carry their respective livestreams exclusively.