Call of Duty World League Broadcasting Only on YouTube
Modern Warfare 2019 marked a dramatic change for not only the Call of Duty series but also for Activision Blizzard’s business model. Instead of earning revenue via random loot boxes, Activision changed to a seasonal battle pass and paid DLC maps. While fans are still skeptical, they welcomed the change by making Modern Warfare 2019 one of the best-selling games of 2019. But Activision is not done making changes to the franchise. The latest target is the Call of Duty World League.
In early November, Activision announced the launch of the Call of Duty league season on January 24 in Minneapolis. As of last week, Activision had still not partnered with a streaming service for the esport event. Historically, Twitch hosted the Call of Duty league, Overwatch League, and other Activision esport events; however, the partnership between the two companies elapsed. Just before the CoD league season began, Activision announced a multi-year partnership with YouTube Gaming.
Despite YouTube’s popularity in the gaming industry, the news comes as a shock. While over 200 million users watch video game content each day on YouTube, the vast majority view pre-recorded content. Although YouTube is trying to grow its live streaming business, Twitch is still the preferred platform for live feeds.
The biggest question is why would Activision partner with YouTube when Twitch has more active viewers of live content. The answer is likely a combination of money and potential.
Google owns YouTube and is trying to gain a foothold in the live content segment of the video game industry with Google Stadia and YouTube TV. While the Stadia launch has been a disaster, YouTube TV was the fastest growing streaming service of 2019. As PlayStation Vue shuts down this month, subscribers will likely flock to Google’s platform.
In an effort to boost viewership of YouTube’s live video game content, Google likely paid a premium for the rights to the Call of Duty World League. Analysts rumored that Twitch paid $90 million per year to broadcast Activision’s content, and Google likely paid a premium for the exclusive rights to Activision’s popular content.
Google’s strategy is curious in comparison to Microsoft’s video game streaming platform Mixer. Microsoft poached many of Twitch’s popular broadcasters by offering more than $1 million for fan icons such as Ninja and Shroud. Fans of those streamers quickly migrated to Mixer, which in turn boosted Microsoft’s share of live video game content. On the other hand, Google is betting on the rise of esports to solidify its position.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how Twitch responds to both Google and Microsoft. Although viewership continues to increase for Twitch, Amazon should not rest on its laurels.
But we want to know what you think. What do you think of the Activision Blizzard partnership with YouTube gaming? Will you watch the Call of Duty World League on YouTube?
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