According to sources cited by Sports Business Journal, that value includes all of the esports properties involved (Call of Duty, Overwatch and Hearthstone) over three years. By contrast, the publisher’s previous deal with Twitch for the Overwatch League alone had been valued at US$90 million over two years.
The deal also will see Google Cloud provide cloud computing services to Activision Blizzard.
The report says that the majority of the overall US$160 million is to do with Overwatch League, with a significant amount also going towards Call of Duty’s esports league. It adds that card battler Hearthstone is not considered a “tier 1 esport” and as such has been called “a free throw-in for YouTube”.
While not a significant increase from the deal with Twitch, the sources also indicated that there are “significant incentive clauses for ad sales and viewership targets,” meaning that the US$160 million is a starting point with money going to the leagues and teams could increase. Those targets have been called “achievable”, which explains why Activision Blizzard was happy to take a deal with a smaller esports player for major monetary increase.
The deal, initially announced at the end of January, was considered a major esports coup.
IHS Markit’s Dr. Louise Shorthouse noted: “The deal is a way for YouTube to compete more aggressively with Twitch in terms of its live streaming offering. Twitch has long been the leader in this regard.”